PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Austria’s Matthias Mayer made up for the disappointment of his injury-hampered downhill title defense at the Pyeongchang Olympics by skiing an error-free run to win the men’s super-G on Friday, ending 16 years of Norwegian dominance of the event.
A day after Aksel Lund Svindal became the first man to have won golds in both the Olympic men’s speed events, the Sochi downhill champion matched him with a masterclass in turning at pace down the Jeongseon slope.
Disregarding the pain of the hip injury he sustained when he collided with a TV cameraman during Tuesday’s combined, Mayer carved his way down the mountain in one minute, 24.44 seconds in perfect conditions at the Jeongseon Alpine Center.
“Four years ago I won the downhill and now today I’m Olympic champion in super-G. I have no words for that,” said Mayer, who finished ninth in the downhill on Thursday.
“I was not sure thinking about my hip today. There was a point when I thought I might not be able to run the downhill and it’s still a bit blue but the medical guys have done a great job.”
It was a second super-G medal for the Mayer family after Matthias’s father Helmut won a silver in the inaugural running of the event at Calgary in 1988 and brought the title back to Austria two decades after Hermann Maier’s triumph in Nagano.
“I’ve been looking at my dad’s silver medal in our living room all my life and I’m happy to have my own now,” Mayer added.
Swiss Beat Feuz finished third behind Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud in Thursday’s downhill but produced a beautifully controlled run of 1:24.57 straight after Mayer to claim silver 0.13 seconds behind the Austrian.
“Yesterday’s bronze medal was already special,” said the downhill world champion.
“But today to get the silver medal in a discipline where I was nobody’s favorite is even better.
Svindal, the 2010 champion, was fifth in 1:24.93 behind French surprise package Blaise Giezendanner (1.24.82) after nearly fouling on the final gate when he lost control of a ski approaching the line.
The super-G was moved forward a day from its place on the original calendar to make way for the rescheduled downhill and the crowd of a few hundred would have been a huge disappointment to organizers.
It looked like a tough course to find a line and after the first two skiers missed gates to drop out, the ipads came out at the top of the course as the competitors tried to figure it out.
Jansrud was the seventh to go, showing his cross-country skiing skills to get going over the first 20 meters before tearing into the course and establishing a comfortable lead.
Mayer and Feuz, 15th and 16th in the draw, had the benefit of watching how their earlier running rivals negotiated the course and made full use of what they saw to put themselves on the top two steps of the podium.
Jansrud’s bronze was his fifth Olympic medal and he joined Alberto Tomba and Lasse Kjus in third place among the most decorated male Alpine skiers behind only Kjetil Andre Aamodt (8) and Bode Miller (6).
The last two of Aamodt’s three super-G titles started Norway’s four-Games monopoly of the gold medal but Jansrud was not too disappointed to see it broken.
“Massive being mentioned in the same sentence as my biggest idols when I was a kid,” said the 32-year-old.
“I’m very proud of picking up my fifth medal, also I’m also very proud to be on the same podium as Matthias and Beat, I think they skied amazingly well today.
“Even though a lot of people expected a Norwegian gold, this a more the normal way in Alpine skiing where the margins are tiny.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Greg Stutchbury and Sudipto Ganguly