Kildow earns first major championship medal
ARE, Sweden ” Lindsey Kildow whooshed a long sigh of relief after earning her first major championship medal. Bode Miller shrugged after finishing 24th and losing his super-G title, then fled the scene.
After a bad crash at the Olympics and a series of fourth-place finishes at the last worlds, Kildow finally had a silver medal looped around her neck Tuesday after finishing second to home favorite Anja Paerson in the women’s super-giant slalom at the Alpine Skiing World Championship.
Miller, the defending champion, made a series of mistakes and finished 1 1/2 seconds behind the winner in the men’s super-G as the world championships finally opened after three days of weather postponements.
Paerson, winless on the World Cup circuit this season after undergoing knee surgery last spring, won the women’s race in 1 minute, 18.85 seconds. Kildow, who hit speeds of 62 mph, was second in 1:19.17. Renate Goetschl of Austria, who has dominated the event on the World Cup circuit this season with victories in three of the five super-G races, won bronze in 1:19.38.
Though she’s a seven-time winner on the World Cup circuit, Kildow never had earned a medal at a big event before Tuesday.
“I definitely feel like the monkey’s off my back now. I’ve proven a lot today,” the 22-year-old Kildow said. “I feel like I’ve been pretty unlucky. In the Olympics last year it was pretty tough with the crash. It kind of ruined my whole games. And I was fourth three times in Bormio. So it’s a relief and satisfaction to be second.”
The American skier was hospitalized overnight after a horrific crash in downhill training at the Turin Games last year. She came back and competed in all four of her events ” downhill, combined, super-G and slalom ” but pain limited her performance and her best result was seventh in the super-G.
At the last worlds in Bormio in 2005, Kildow finished fourth in the downhill, combined and team event.
“Medals are precious. It’s always exciting to see someone get a medal,” U.S. Alpine director Jesse Hunt said. “But to see someone who’s tried so hard to actually come through with a big performance on the big day is fun to see.
“I think for Lindsey, who’s been at the top for a couple of years now, it was extra special. It’s definitely going to break the ice for more to come.”
Two other American women joined Kildow in the top 10 ” Olympic giant slalom champion Julia Mancuso was sixth, and Libby Ludlow was ninth. Mancuso had a scare, soaring too far on the last big jump to land on the tails of her skis.
“I was a little haggard up there. I don’t know why I always have to catch more air than everyone,” Mancuso said. “I wasn’t feeling 100 percent today but I really tried to push through it mentally. I feel like I did a good job. There was just those couple of places where I needed to be on it and I wasn’t.”
In the men’s race, Italian Patrick Staudacher benefited from an early start number to cover the Olympia course ” which was shortened because of heavy snow on the upper section ” in 1:14.30. Austrian Fritz Strobl took silver in 1:14.62. Switzerland’s Bruno Kernen was third in 1:14.92.
Miller took a lot of risks on the upper section, then lost almost half a second when he hit a gate with his shoulder on the bottom part of the course.
“That’s how skiing goes. I risked it all and I lost,” Miller said before quickly leaving the finish area.
Miller had been a favorite. He’d won the super-G here at last year’s World Cup finals, and has won two of the three super-G races so far this World Cup season.
“He said he was pushing the line hard and then made a big mistake and got his arm hooked up,” said U.S. men’s head coach Phil McNichol. “In super-G, especially on a shortened course, you can’t afford gross errors and getting caught up in a panel and dumping all your speed.”
Steven Nyman was 12th for the top U.S. men’s result, but still covered his head with his hands upon seeing his time.
“We fell short across the board today,” McNichol said. “It would’ve been nice to come out and have a big race the first day and use that momentum. Our guys just didn’t execute to their ability today.”
Downhill training is slated for Wednesday. The men race the super-combi Thursday and the women do so on Friday.
“I think we got our lodge legs knocked off us, so we’ll definitely be a little more on pace starting tomorrow in training,” McNichol said.
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