Expect the unexpected at Birds of Prey super-G; race starts at 10:45 a.m. today | VailDaily.com

Expect the unexpected at Birds of Prey super-G; race starts at 10:45 a.m. today

BEAVER CREEK — Something strange will happen as the curtain rises on the Birds of Prey with Friday, Dec. 1's super-G at 10:45 a.m.

Surprises are inherent to the format, and super-G races here have a flair for the dramatic.

But nothing will ever top Feb. 2, 1999 at Birds of Prey. It just can't happen.

Norway's Lasse Kjuss and Austria's Hermann Maier tied — down to the hundredth-of-a-second for super-G gold at the 1999 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

More than 18 years later, the mathematical probability of a tie for a world title boggles the mind.

"I have no sisters, only brothers," Maier said when asked by an American reporter whether a tie was like kissing your sister.

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That was quite the awkward moment until someone explained the expression to the hulking Austrian.

The great trivia question from Vail '99 — yes, the super-G was in Beaver Creek, but that was the parlance of the day — is who finished third in the men's super-G?

Austria's Hans Knauss — by 1-hundredth of a second. Talk about a photo finish.

Newbie?

Five times, the Birds of Prey super-G has produced a first-time World Cup winner, which is somewhere in the same zip code of crazy as a tie for first.

For Bjarne Solbakken (2003), his win was his the one shining moment of his career. Stephan Goergl (2004) won later in the 2004-05 season, a giant slalom in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, before injuries derailed his career. He's better known as Elisabeth Goergl's brother.

Some guy named Hannes Reichelt kept the newbie streak going in 2005. In hindsight, the Austrian's win was no fluke.

Reichelt has 13 World Cup wins and Worlds super-G gold at Beaver Creek in 2015. Between Worlds and World Cup, he's won four times on Birds of Prey in this discipline.

Switzerland's Sandro Viletta came out of bib No. 30 in 2011 for the win, his first and only. Italy's Matteo Marsaglia's lone World Cup win came here in 2012.

Familiar names

Lest one think one needs a FIS media guide — they don't exist anymore — for Friday's race, the Birds of Prey super-G has a proper pedigree of winners.

The 1999 tie was one of three times Maier won it. Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal's super-G win in 2008 was part of his triumphant return to Beaver Creek after a spectacular crash here in 2007. A super-G win was part of Switzerland's Carlo Janka's triple — three wins in three days — in 2009.

The 2015 podium was not unfamiliar either. It just had names one would expect in more in giant slalom. Austria's Marcel Hirscher topped Ted Ligety by 33-hundredths of a second, while Andrew Weibrecht got his first World Cup podium in third. This remains Hirscher's lone speed win, though he won the combined here at 2015 Worlds.

Ligety's second-place finish tied for his World Cup best, though he won both the super-G and combined at the 2013 Championships in Schladming, Austria.

That 2015 Birds of Prey finish brings up an important point about the Birds of Prey super-G course — it's more technical than most, so it lends itself more to GS racers.

The standings

Friday is the second super-G of the new season. The podium from Lake Louise, Alberta, on Sunday, Nov. 26, was Norway's Kjetil Jansrud in first, followed by Austria's Max Franz and Reichelt.

Jansrud is the defending World Cup super-G champion, with Reichelt taking second last year, followed by Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.

The picks

The one guarantee is that there will be a new champion on Friday. Hirscher is not competing.

The following predictions are presented in the spirit of folly:

Pat Graham, AP Denver: Jansrud.

Chris Freud, Vail Daily: Reichelt.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.

Birds of Prey super-G winners

W indicates FIS Alpine World Ski Championships

1997 — Herman Maier, Austria

1999W — Lasse Kjus Norway, and Herman Maier, Austria (tie)

1999 — Herman Maier, Austria

2000 — Fredrik Nyberg, Sweden

2002 — Didier Cuche, Switzerland

2003 — Bjarne Solbakken, Norway

2004 — Stephan Goergl, Austria

2005 — Hannes Reichelt, Austria

2007 — Hannes Reichelt, Austria

2008 — Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway

2009 — Carlo Janka, Switzerland

2010 — Georg Streitberger, Austria

2011 — Sandro Viletta, Switzerland

2012 — Matteo Marsaglia, Italy

2013 — Peter Kueng, Switzerland

2014 — Hannes Reichelt, Austria

2015W — Hannes Reichelt, Austria

2015 — Marcel Hirscher, Austria