Cuche wins Super-G, Miller second
Vail, CO Colorado
VAL GARDENA, Italy ” Didier Cuche of Switzerland won a super-G Friday for his first victory of the World Cup season, and Bode Miller got his first top-three finish since breaking away from the U.S. Ski Team.
Cuche covered the 1.47-mile Saslong course in 1 minute, 36.62 seconds on a clear day. Miller was 0.02 seconds behind, and Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein was third, 0.04 back.
“Super-G is about experience. It helps when you’ve been skiing on the World Cup for 10 or 11 years like Cuche and Marco,” said Miller, who is also in his 10th season on the circuit.
There are no training runs before super-G races. Skiers only get to look at the course during inspection shortly before the start.
Cuche had a standout 2006-07 season, winning the World Cup downhill title and finishing second behind Miller in the super-G standings, although he had only one win ” a downhill in Kvitfjell, Norway.
Miller left the U.S. team ahead of this season to train and race on his own. He won the super-G here last year but hadn’t finished in the top three since placing third in the giant slalom at last season’s World Cup finals.
Miller still hasn’t won since taking the classic downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, nearly a year ago.
“I’ve been skiing well all season but my results haven’t matched that,” Miller said.
The 21st skier down the course, Miller increased his lead on Buechel from the first to second check points. He lost precious splits of a second in the middle section, hitting several gates that caused his arms to ricochet into the air.
“Last year, I skied so clean with no mistakes. This year, I was really attacking and made a few errors,” Miller said. “But I’m perfectly satisfied with the way I skied.”
Cuche skied next and was significantly behind Miller through the first two check points. The Swiss skier was perfect on the lower section, and popped his ski off his foot and up into the air with delight upon seeing his name on top of the leader board.
“I made a little mistake on the upper part of the course and I wasn’t too happy,” Cuche said. “I also had some trouble landing a jump near the end and only barely made the next gate. But you need some luck to win, especially by just a couple hundredths.”
Also scoring points were three Americans from the back of the field: Scott Macartney, who started 50th and was 23rd; T.J. Lanning who ran 48th and finished 26th; and Marco Sullivan, who skied 57th in the field of 60 and was 27th over the 2.4K speed run.
“It was a good ‘attack from the back’ day,” Macartney said. “I started in the 50s, so I’m psyched. You could come from back in the 50s into the 20s, but anything beyond that ” the teens or maybe into the top 10 ” would be a stretch.”
Buechel was informed by the International Ski Federation (FIS) on Thursday that his back protector no longer met regulations.
“When you get a call at 6:00 the night before the race saying the back protector you’ve used for the last four years is not good anymore, it’s not very nice,” said Buechel, the oldest skier on the circuit at 36. “I made a lot of phone calls and late at night I got a new one. I was a little angry and that’s why I skied so fast today, so thank you FIS.”
Daniel Albrecht, who lost control while landing a jump, finished out of the top 30. He slid into the safety fence, got right back up and skied down without assistance. But he dropped from second to third in the overall standings.
“I was too long in the air,” said Albrecht, who was not injured. “I have no pain.”
Benjamin Raich finished seventh and leads the overall standings with 441 points, followed by Cuche (373) and Albrecht (332).
Miller moved up from seventh to fourth overall with 274 points.
Cuche took over the lead in the super-G standings from Raich, 184-161.
Cuche’s Swiss teammate Didier Defago finished fourth and Erik Guay of Canada was fifth.
Switzerland now has five wins this season: Albrecht has two, and Marc Gini and Cuche have one each for the men, while Martina Schild has one among the women.
Michael Walchhofer, one of the pre-race favorites, finished 14th after making a big mistake on the top section. Walchhofer, the first skier on the course, said he couldn’t receive any course reports.
The downhill is Saturday.
The U.S. Ski Team contributed to the report