This was a race that you needed courage, needed to take risks and fight. This was a race that would be won by the man who made the fewest mistakes. The Italian team is on a high at the moment after the win by Christof Innerhofer in the Downhill and with Matteo Marsaglia taking the win in the Super G, the mood in the Italian camp will go to another level. Marsaglia took the win in the eyes of Ted Ligety due to the fact thatÂ Â “Marsaglia took more risk than the rest of us and it paid off because he didnâ€™t make mistakes.” While the man in form at the moment, Aksel Lund Svindal,was edged out by another Italian (he was beaten by Christof Innerhofer in the Downhill) from the win, Hannes Reichelt gave the Austrians some joy with a podium.
From the forst racer, Stephen Keppler, the race was fast and furious. Keppler did not last long before he was bounced off the course and slide down the hill before being caught by the catch fencing some way down the hill. Colorado has not benefitted from the same amount of snow fall as many other resorts and the man made snow is hard packed. Add this to the course setting and this was a verocious course many felt: Reichelt commented after the race that “This was among theÂ toughest I have ever seen and the course setting was very difficult.â€
With Keppler down and off the course, the race got down to business. A rejuvenated Werner Heel, now on Atomic skis, opened up a sizeable lead on the rest of the finishers yet his lead did not last long as Reichelt came down from bib 8 to take the lead. Reichelt had won twice before in Beaver Creek and looked in good shape. Two runners later and the fate of the Austrian team darkened. Max Franz is one of the bright new talents that have come to the fore this season. He almost grabbed the win in Lake Louise and is definitely one to watch. Coming down to the Red Tail jump, he got his line slightly off and ended up straddling the gate after at high speed.
Franz does not do things at half pace and he was in pain as he lay on the snow. Racers know that something is wrong when there is a huge delay and there is no doubt that this affected the rest of the Austrian team. All of the remaining Austrians were noticeably cautious through this section. Fears for the young Austrians season spread yet after the race it was announced that Franz hadÂ ‘a concussion and abrasions on the face.’
After a break to enable Franz to be cleared from the course, off we were again. Bib number 12 saw Matteo Marsaglia hit the course and the Italian did not disappoint. This is a slope for the brave and Marsaglia knew that he had to take risks if he was going to win.Â â€œYou need to do it (take risk) but when you do it, you must also relax,â€ he commented after the race. Marsaglia had won two FIS Super G’s in Copper Mountain just prior to the races in Lake Louise yet had never been better than 4th in a World Cup race. Now here he was leading the race with the top racers still to go.
Christof Innerhofer was next up and after the win in the Downhill his confidence was sky high. It showed as he attacked the course but a mistake off Harrier and from having faster times than his compatriot, he lost a bucket load of time. His race was run and by the time he went through the section known as Abyss, he was over one and a half seconds off the pace.
The worry of the Austrians was now evident as Mayer, Puchner and Kroell all put in below par performances and the Kjetil Jansrud blasted out of the start. The 27 year old from Norway was a man on a mission and the line that he took through Tallon and the speed he generated was awesome. Yet just as you felt that all he had to do was cross the line, Jansrud got caught on his tails and scrubbed speed off after Red Tail. There would be no chance to win back time on the last three gates. Marsaglia could breath again.
The man of the moment, Aksel Lund Svindal then attacked. Behind, then infront, the behind the clock kept changing and on he battled. Svindal is a tall man but strong and determined. By the time he approached the Abyss, the compression between the two jumps, he was in front of the time set by the Italian. A small mistake in the compression and this saw time being scrubbed. Svindal spent a fraction too long on his tails in the compression and that was that. He slotted in to second place behind the Italian and now had to wait to see if he would stay on the podium for a second day. “I am happy with how my race went and with my second place,” explained Svindal, “I was doing really well until a big mistake at the bottom cost me the victory. Today it was me, Jansrud and Innerhofer that could have challenged Marsaglia, we were all fast until we did mistakes and Marsaglia didnâ€™t â€“ thatâ€™s how you win races!â€
As the remaining top seeds made their way down, the positions at the top of the leaderboard did not change. Yet when American Ted Ligety hit the slope you could sense a rise in the atmosphere. Ligety has made it clear that he wants to have a crack at the Overall this season and having won the opening GS in Soelden in October, then placed well in the Slalom in Levi and followed all this up with a sparkling fourth in the opening Super G in Lake Louise, this is no idle threat. Ligety was in touch the whole way down yet just could not break the beam fast enough to score a podium. With his other rivals in the GS stakes, Hirscher and Pinterault, also racing to get a feel of the hill, Ligety certainly walked away from the slope in the best frame of mind as he took fourth overall. Ligety said afterwards: “I went for it really hard in the places I could and tried to ski smart in the places you had to be smart. I think Marsaglia took more risk than the rest of us and it paid off because he didnâ€™t make mistakes.”
With the hard conditions keeping the slope in good form for the later runners, a number of the later numbers were able to make good their opportunity to throw in a good result: Guillermo Fayed from France came down from 61 to place 15 being the pick of them. American Brennan Rubie made his debut race a race to remember as his stormed into 27th.
Britain’s TJ Baldwin gained valuable experience on the slope that will host the 2015 World Championships and finished in 50th spot from a start number of 65.