Staudacher wins men’s super G title |

Staudacher wins men’s super G title

Erica Bulman
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Italy's Patrick Staudacher reacts after posting the fastest time to win the gold medal in men's super G at the World Alpine Ski Chmpionships in Are, Sweden on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

ARE, Sweden ” Patrick Staudacher gave Italy its first men’s super-giant slalom world championship a few weeks after eye surgery. Defending champion Bode Miller made several mistakes and finished 24th.

Staudacher, who had the stitches removed a week ago following a cornea operation, took advantage of an early start number to charge down the Olympia course in a winning time of 1 minute, 14.30 seconds Tuesday for the first major victory of his career.

“After I came down I was expecting a top-five or top-six result. Being at the very top now is crazy,” said the 26-year-old Italian. “No one from my hometown is here today. They’re all coming for the downhill. No one was expecting this.”

Miller lost almost half a second when he hit a gate with his shoulder on the bottom part of the course. The American, who won the super G on this course at last year’s World Cup finals, appeared to be too aggressive on the upper section of the course and made several key mistakes.

“That’s how skiing goes,” Miller said. “I risked it all, and I lost.”

Austrian Fritz Strobl, the 2002 Olympic downhill champion, captured the silver medal with a time of 1:14.62. Switzerland’s Bruno Kernen took the bronze in 1:14.92.

“In the upper and lower third you needed a lot of feeling,” Kernen said. “The middle section was very icy and you had to be merciless.”

The race was the first of the world championships after three days of delays because of strong winds and heavy snowfalls. The women also raced a super G Tuesday that was won by Sweden’s Anja Paerson.

“The conditions were perfect today,” said Steven Nyman, who finished 12th for the top showing by an American. “The snow was perfect and there was no wind.”

Staudacher’s previous best career result was sixth in a World Cup downhill at Bormio, Italy, earlier this season. His best super G performance was eighth at Hinterstoder, Austria, in December.

In addition to eye surgery, Staudacher also was coming back from a left knee injury from a fall in training 10 days ago in Italy.

“It’s a big surprise,” said Italian coach Adriano Ilisse. “But Patrick has been coming along and he skied perfectly today.”

Italy’s previous best result in a men’s super G at the worlds was a fifth-place finish by Alberto Tomba at Vail in 1989.

World Cup overall leader Aksel Lund Svindal was disappointed with his 13th-place finish.

“I thought it was a good run until I looked at the scoreboard,” the Norwegian said. “I should never have looked, because my race wasn’t very good. It was a lot slower than I thought.”

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