The super-G starts Birds of Prey today |

The super-G starts Birds of Prey today

Austria's Max Franz is the defending champion of the Xfinity Birds of Prey FIS World Cup super-G. He attempts to repeat today at 10:45 a.m. at Beaver Creek.
John Locher | Associated Press | AP

Here we go.

The training run and the wait are over, and it’s race time.

The Xfinity Birds of Prey FIS World Cup super-G starts at 10:45 a.m. today at Beaver Creek.

While picking the winner of a ski race is generally a foolish enterprise — unless Mikaela Shiffrin is racing slalom — the super-G format and the race’s history at Beaver Creek makes this nigh unto impossible.

The format

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Racers have done downhill training, but the whole point of super-G is that it’s a different course — and one on which the skiers do not get to train.

The course is shorter than downhill — 1.16 miles as opposed to 1.62 miles at Beaver Creek.

This morning, the gates were set and the racers were able to inspect the course but not ski it. Thus, this tests a speed racer’s ability to improvise at the turns come.

It’s a one-run race, and the top 30 racers earn points in the World Cup standings.

The winning time is usually in the range of 1 minute, 10 seconds.

The history

The Birds of Prey super-G has taken the surprise nature of the discipline to the extreme.

Six different times, this race’s champion has been a first-time winner. They are:

2003 — Bjarne Solbakken, Norway

2004 — Stephan Goergl, Austria

2005 — Hannes Reichelt, Austria

2011 — Sandro Viletta, Switzerland

2012 — Matteo Marsaglia, Italy

2017 — Vincent Kriechmayr, Austria

Reichelt and Kriechmayr launched their careers with those wins. The others are footnotes.

Reichelt has won three World Cup super-Gs here as well as the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships gold in 2015.

Speaking of worlds, in 1999, Austria’s Hermann Maier and Norway’s Lasse Kjus tied for gold, down to the hundredth of a second, here. Austria’s Hans Knauss was one-hundredth of a second behind those two for the bronze medal.

Past podiums

Last year, Austria’s Max Franz won here with Switzerland’s Mauro Caviezel in second and then a three-way tie for third among Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Italy’s Dominik Paris.

Last week in Lake Louise, Alberta, Austria’s Matthias Mayer won the first super-G of the season with Paris in second and Kriechmayr and Caviezel tied for third.

The picks

We, at the Vail Daily, in no way endorse gambling, but we make fools of ourselves by attempting to pick the winners. This is, of course, for recreational purposes only.

Tom Boyd, chief of press for the Vail Valley Foundation: Caviezel … The Swiss skier had two podiums here last year.

Shanua Farnell, general ski-reporting godess: The Norwegian tradition continues … Kilde.

Chris Freud, Vail Daily: Always go with an Austrian … Kriechmayr.

Pat Graham: AP Denver: Party like it’s 2009. It’s turn-back-the-clock week at Birds of Prey. Switzerland’s Carlo Janka.

Ross Leonhart, Vail Daily: For the simple fact Nate and I rode with the lift with his dad … Franz.

Nate Peterson, Vail Daily: A bridesmaid last year, he hits the top step … Caviezel.

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