Austria’s Reichelt tops surprise super G podium
December 1, 2005
BEAVER CREEK – Same place, same story, same red-and-white uniform. Different name.Exactly one year after Austria’s Stephan Goergl shocked everyone by winning his first World Cup race at the Beaver Creek super G, Hannes Reichelt matched the feat Thursday. The 25-year-old tamed an especially unforgiving Birds of Prey course and punctuated a remarkable day for the Austrians – and a forgettable one for the Americans. Canada’s Erik Guay finished second, .04 seconds back of Reichelt’s winning time of 1 minute, 17.33 seconds. Austria’s Matthias Lanzinger took third to complete the improbable podium and earn a career-best World Cup result of his own. In all, the alpine racing factory that is Austria claimed nine of the top 19 spots. Daron Rahlves, in fifth, was the lone American to crack that same span on a day he and his teammates had targeted to excel in front of the rare home crowd.
Reigning super G world champion Bode Miller skied off course about halfway down, a victim of frozen goggles, then decided not to speak with reporters. He was one of 17 racers in the field of 56 who failed to finish. U.S. skiers JJ Johnson and Marco Sullivan joined him in that list. “I wouldn’t call it a good day,” Johnson said. “It’s not what we wanted.”On the contrary, it was everything Reichelt wanted. The up-and-comer showed plenty of promise two years ago, then tore apart his left knee in the Europa Cup finale in March. Thursday, just nine months after the accident, he delivered his message first with his skiing, then with his words: “Now I’m back.””To win today is perfect,” he said, crediting a good course inspection for the victory, which earned him $30,000. “I am only happy and smiling.”
The same could be said for Guay, in more ways than one. He also was coming back from a severe left knee injury, his occurring two seasons ago. Starting 17th Thursday, he used a calm head at the start gate to kick off a sensational run through the whipping wind and blowing snow.”A lot of guys were getting psyched out in the start with the weather and the wind and stuff, and I just used that to my advantage,” said Guay, 24. “Everybody just seemed to be kind of down and complaining about whether they’re running (the race) or not, and I just told myself, we’re going to run it for sure, there’s no way they’re going to cancel it, so I might as well just attack it 100 percent.”I was hoping for top 10,” Guay said. “This is beyond my expectations.”Rahlves gave the home crowd something to cheer with a good run, but one that would have been better had he not lost valuable speed as he entered the flats in the middle of the course. He finished .89 seconds back of Reichelt.
Rahlves has talked plenty about his desire to win here this week. Asked after the race whether he was disappointed with his result, he said, “Pretty much. I want to show up and just own this place. Right now it stings more, but toward the end of the day I think I’ll let it sink in. Because it’s a solid result. Top five is all right. But I want to be top three, at the worst, here at Beaver Creek. And I want to start winning some races.”So does Miller, though his results this season haven’t been what he hoped. Aside from his runner-up showing at the season-opening giant slalom in Austria, Miller now has an 18th, a 22nd and a DNF to show for his last three events, all of which were speed races.He was actually .27 seconds ahead of Reichelt’s pace after the first split Thursday, but he skied off course shortly afterward.Steven Nyman, a U.S. C Team member from Utah who has come on strong in World Cup events, finished with a points-scoring run (top 30) for the second straight race. He jumped up from the 54th start spot – two shy of last – to tie Switzerland’s Juerg Gruenenfelder for 25th. Gruenenfelder started first.
American Scott Macartney finished 31st, one spot out of the points.Other notable finishers included Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt (seventh); and Austria’s Hermann Maier (eighth), Fritz Strobl (12th), Goergl (16th) and Benjamin Raich (18th).The Birds of Prey downhill is set for today, depending on the weather. As of Thursday night, the forecast called for more snow and wind, which could force the race’s cancellation. Miller and Rahlves finished 1-2 at last year’s Beaver Creek downhill.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13630, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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