Gruber leads 1-2 Austrian finish at Whistler
WHISTLER, British Columbia ” Christoph Gruber led a 1-2 Austrian finish Thursday in a World Cup super giant slalom on the same course that will host the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Gruber won in 1 minute, 26.60 seconds to edge teammate Hannes Reichelt by 0.03 seconds. Ales Gorza of Slovenia was third in 1:26.71.
Gruber’s fourth career World Cup victory, but first since 2006, left him looking forward to the Vancouver Olympics.
“It’s a good feeling to win here,” the Austrian said. “Hopefully I’m here at the Olympics in two years.”
The race was staged on the same Dave Murray Downhill course that will be used in the 2010 Winter Olympics. This week’s World Cup events are the first official test events for the games.
“It’s a tough course,” Gruber said. “You have to work from the start to the finish. There are no flat parts. It’s really great to ski.”
Local Olympic organizers spent $27.6 million upgrading the Creekside facility for 2010. Getting the race off was important for organizers since it was the first successful World Cup event in Whistler since 1995.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) abandoned Whistler as a World Cup stop in 1998 after three consecutive years of races being canceled due to adverse snow and weather conditions. Organizers had tried to stage those races before Christmas.
Between 1982 and 1995, 12 men’s and one women’s World Cup races were held in Whistler. All but one was staged on the Dave Murray men’s course and all of them were held after Christmas.
The women will race a downhill on Friday and a super-combi on Sunday. The men will have a giant slalom Saturday.
Steven Nyman was the top American finisher in what was a terrible day for the United States. Four racers didn’t finish, including Bode Miller.
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