Eberharter opens Worlds with win
Eberharter finished in 1 minute, 38.80 seconds to reclaim the title he won 12 years ago.
“”I am extremely proud to become super-G world champion again 12 years later,” Eberharter said.
Maier and Miller finished in the identical time of 1:39.57.
Maier, who returned to competition three weeks ago after nearly losing a leg in a motorcycle accident in August 2001, built a 0.67-second lead in the top of the Corviglia course but lost time at the bottom and finished tied with Miller.
“I can’t say I’m not excited, but I didn’t think I skied very well,” said Miller. “But I think a lot of guys had trouble today. I’m sorry I couldn’t keep up the U.S. tradition of winning the super-G, but I think Stephan really showed ’em he earned it today.”
It was a tough day for the remainder of the American team, including Daron Rahlves. The defending champion, making his debut on the hill, was within striking distance after the flatter top section of the course, but a coming out of the Chicane section past the midway cost him dearly and he finished 22nd.
Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, Calif.) was 17th, Jake Fiala (Frisco) 28th and Thomas Vonn (Newburgh, N.Y.) went out just past the midway.
“Today the line I skied in the race run was almost exactly what I expected to ski,” said Miler. “I did change a bit on the first jump where those two guys crashed, but it didn’t really help. But today there was that advantage to see where everyone was making mistakes.
“Overall I’m pleased,” he added. “It’s a challenging hill, lots of terrains, lots of blind turns things which play to the strengths of the more experienced racers who really know how to judge speed in those sections, lines and turns.”
Miller came into the Championships with bold golds – to challenge for four gold medals.
“Silver is a great way to start, but it would be nice to say world champion.”
Maier wasn’t happy with his performance. He swung his poles in frustration after crossing the line.
“”There was a lot more there for me,” the two-time Olympic champion and three-time overall World Cup winner said. “”I was very careless in the bottom, I threw it away.
“”I should have been more aggressive, at one gate I went too wide and that’s what made the difference.”
Maier shared the gold medal at the 1999 World Championships in Vail with Norway’s Lasse Kjus, who finished ninth Sunday.
It was a sweet victory for Eberharter, who dominated the World Cup circuit in Maier’s absence but was often overshadowed by his countryman. Eberharter was 0.34 seconds slower than Maier at the halfway mark, but raced a tremendous bottom section to win by .77 seconds.
“”I fought like a tiger,” Eberharter said. “”It was my sixth World Championship. I had no pressure. I was calm and I liked the slope.
“”To be the winner of this race is much more important than beating Hermann Maier. We are getting on well with each other, it’s the media that say it is the other way around.”
Eberharter, who leads the overall World Cup standings, won the super-G title for the first time on home snow in Saalbach-Hinterglemm in 1991.
Miller wasn’t happy with his performance.
Switzerland’s Ambrosi Hoffmann finished fourth. Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, the Olympic super-G champion, finished fifth, missing a record tying 11th World Championship medal. Canadians Erik Guay and Jan Hudec finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
NBC will broadcast coverage of the men’s super-G. NBC will carry two hours of coverage Feb. 7-8 and Feb. 15-16.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.