Who’s the lucky guy to pick in Saturday’s super-G | VailDaily.com

Who’s the lucky guy to pick in Saturday’s super-G

BEAVER CREEK — Happy super-G, everyone.

This is the race for vets to shine or someone to come from absolute nowhere to win this thing.

To clarify, a super-G is a speed race — one run and almost as long as the downhill — but racers may only inspect the course once it is set. Unlike the downhill, there are no training runs.

This tests a racer’s speed and ability to adjust on the fly or just his willingness go for broke.

“The go for broke” attitude is a theory we got from Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who seems to know what he’s talking about. As Birds of Prey produced a ton of first-time World Cup winners, he postulated that if there’s a challenging course set, those who haven’t won before are willing to risk a DNF to make the extreme turn, whereas tour regulars like Svindal maybe ease off, finish the race and still get the points.

We’ve had a run of first-time winners at the super-G, including Norway’s Bjarne Solbakken (2003), Austria’s Stephan Goergl (2004), some guy from Austria named Hannes Reichelt in 2005 and Switzerland’s Sandro Viletta in 2011.

As for a race in which vets may shine, Reichelt was clearly on to something after winning in 2005. Unlike the other three, this was no fluke. He’s the defending Birds of Prey super-G champ and won the event during the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in February.

The lowdown:

Weather and stats

Format: As noted above, the start is lower at Talon turn. There is pre-race inspection of the course set, but the racers haven’t been allowed to train on it.

Stats: The super-G start on Birds of Prey starts at 10,995 feet and drops 2,201 feet during a mere 1.04 miles.

Weather: Weather.com says 34 in Avon with a 60 percent chance of snow showers, so high-20s at Redtail Stadium. This adds to the intrigue as start positions may be rendered irrelevant. If it starts to dump, then those with an earlier bib number can take advantage of a clear course before the white stuff piles up.

Winners and rankings

Previous winners: Hermann Maier, Austria (1997 and 1999); Maier and Lasse Kjus, Norway, a tie 1999 Worlds; Fredrik Nyberg, Sweden (2000); Didier Cuche, Switzerland (2002); Solbakken (2003); Goergl (2004); Reichelt (2005, 2007, 2014 and 2015 Worlds); Svindal (2008); Carlo Janka, Switzerland (2009); Georg Streitberger, Austria (2010); Viletta (2011); Matteo Marsaglia, Italy (2012); Patrick Kueng, Switzerland (2013).

2015 World Cup super-G rankings: 1. Kjetil Jansrud, Norway, 556 points; 2. Dominik Paris, Italy, 353; 3. Matthias Mayer, Austria, 274; 4. Reichelt, 243; 5. Dustin Cook, Canada, 239.

Top Americans in 2015: 12. Andrew Weibrecht, 167 points and 27. Travis Ganong, 54.

Lake Louise, Alberta, super-G results: 1. Svindal; 2. Mayer; 3.Peter Fill, Italy; T4. Max Franz, Austria, and Travis Ganong.

Home cooking

Americans running today: Ganong (Bib No. 2); Weibrecht (10); Ted Ligety (29); Jared Goldberg (36), Thomas Biesemeyer (42); Nyman (46), Tim Jitloff (50); Bryce Bennett (56) and Tommy Ford (58).

Look out: Racers get Talon right out of the gate. That had people for lunch on Friday. Pumphouse was another thorn in the side of racers. Also, again, watch out for weather.

Favorites

No kidding category: Reichelt, as mentioned, has a storied history here. Does anyone want to bet against the Svinsrud, aka Svindal and/or Jansrud?

Quiet favorites: France’s Adrien Theaux always skis well here. Italian Paris is also one of those guys who goes about doing his business in quiet fashion.

American watch: After fifth place in the downhill on Friday, Weibrecht gets to run in the discipline in which he owns two Olympic medals. Ganong nearly made the podium last week in Lake Louise. And, welcome back, Ted. Ligety is starting today. Traditionally, Shred has had very good super-G results because this run is more technical than others on tour.

Reporter picks

OK, Pat Graham of AP Denver originally submitted Jansdal as his pick, but the local sports guy rephrased it as Svinsrud, which sounds better. Either way, kudos to Graham for his successful pick and his beloved Kansas City Royals winning the World Series.

For the super-G:

• Shauna Farnell, general ski goddess reporter: Svindal.

• Chris Freud, Vail Daily: Reichelt (Hey, I covered his first win here.)

• Graham: Reichelt (He couldn’t make up something clever with Reichelt, Georg Streitberger and Otmar Streidinger.)

• Melanie Wong, Vail Daily: Reichelt.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached by calling 970-748-2934 and emailing cfreud@vaildaily.com. Follow Freud on Twitter @cfreud.