The Beaver Creek super G result surprised.
Swiss Sandro Viletta came from the 30th start to claim his first World Cup win in a discipline not
considered his forte on a course among the more difficult on the circuit.
It was snowy and grey for the men’s super G, and it seemed few had a hold on how to handle the
Birds of Prey course — more than 900 meters shorter than the downhill with the same number of
gates. A number of skiers took the freshly written page out of Bode Miller’s book and took a risky
line. There were 15 who didn’t finish the race, including Americans Travis Ganong and Ted Ligety.
Plenty more made huge mistakes, Bode himself among them.
Canadian Robbie Dixon took an early lead that looked like it just might hold up, and Aksel Lund
Svindal narrowly snagged it away eight racers later. But Dixon was second for another dozen starters, long enough to start believing. He was talking to reporters when the 23rd starter, Beat Feuz,
got what would become his third podium finish of the season, literally behind Dixon’s back. “I should
have known better than to start talking to you guys,” said Dixon after near-whiplash in responding
to the announcer’s call. Seven skiers later, Viletta knocked the Canadian completely off the podium.
While he finished fourth, Dixon still matched his career-best super G finish.
“I risked all at the top,” Viletta said. “I just pushed as much I can.” He said that while he had been
inspired by Miller’s downhill run he wasn’t presumptuous enough to try to ski like him. That, he said,
“is not possible.” His real advantage was not risk, but a lack of mistakes. He, quite candidly, was not
sure what had just taken place.
“It is difficult to believe in a day like this,” said Viletta. “It’s not my kind of piste; it’s not my discipline.
It will take me some time to figure it out.”
Svindal was denied his second super G win of the season by the stunning charge of Viletta, yet was
quick to praise the effort of Viletta, particularly through the upper, very technical, part of the course.
“I just wasn’t clean enough, I had some mistakes, not big mistakes,” Svindal said. “Viletta, he was
carrying the speed all the way up there. I had to throw them sideways a couple times, and he skied
really well up there.”
The upper portion of the course was particularly difficult, and the best super G skiers in the world
struggled to keep a high line. Miller nearly exited early, getting caught up in the soft snow about four
gates in. Though he managed to finish with a spectacular recovery, he was a second and half out in
a race where the top 10 were all within a second. He finished 21st.
The finishes indicate the track held up to the heavy traffic well. Andrew Weibrecht came out of the
34th start to claim 10th, matching his career-best mark, also achieved in Beaver Creek, and the 40th
starter, Matteo Marsaglia of Italy, got 11th from the 40th start.
For the U.S., Tommy Ford posted a 27th, and Ryan Cochran-Siegle attacked from the back of the
pack for 29th place and his first World Cup points, an event witnessed by his mother, Olympic gold
medalist Barbara Cochran. It was his third career World Cup start.
Giant Slalom No. 1, Dec. 4
When the make-up race from no-snow Val d’Isere was added to the Beaver Creek schedule, it
meant a pair of giant slaloms separated by only a day. Even with classic GS hills such as Alta Badia
and Adelboden still on the schedule, the two GS races at Beaver Creek will be tough to top from any
vantage point. From a U.S. viewpoint the opportunity was exquisite in its potential.
On a weekend when the U.S. alpine team had already collected four wins, expectations were higher
than the altitude at Beaver Creek.
Ted Ligety led after the first run, which shocked no one. But being No. 1 means wearing a big target,
and the chance to put an arrow in it can supply extra incentive to a competitor. The fact that the juggernaut Austrian men’s team was already five races into the season without a win provided another
incentive for that team’s members.