January 20, 2006
KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP by Eugene Brcic)—Olympic champion Hermann Maier defended his super-G title Friday on Kitzbuehel's famed Hahnenkamm course, while Bode Miller flew off course early.
Maier started aggressively on the sun-drenched Streifalm course that was quickly deteriorating, making conditions tough for those skiing late. He crossed the finish line in 1 minute, 22.97 seconds.
Peter Fill of Italy was second, 0.05 seconds behind. Austria's Hannes Reichelt was third, 0.28 seconds off the pace.
"It wasn't so easy, Maier said. "There was a lot of snow in the last two days and it was hard for the skiers with high numbers, but I found the right balance between smooth and aggressive skiing.
In addition to his five super-G victories at Kitzbuehel, Maier won a downhill in 2001.
The win offered a much needed confidence booster for the 33-year-old Maier going into next month's Olympics. He had only one previous victory this season, in the opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.
"Yesterday, I thought two victories would be good, Maier said. "Now I have it, so I'm happy.
Miller, the reigning overall and super-G champion, went off course on a tricky turn in the top section and was forced to give up on a track that favored his risky style with no jumps until the end.
Miller also skied out at the last race, a super-combi in Wengen, Switzerland.
Fellow American Daron Rahlves finished sixth. He had a 0.12-second lead near the top but lost precious time in the later sections.
"It's OK, it's acceptable, Rahlves said.
Miller walked passed reporters without speaking.
Super-G rankings leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was 14th.
Maier recovered from a spectacular downhill crash at the Olympics in Nagano in 1998 and came back to win the super-G gold medal a day later. On Friday, he had a 0.19 advantage at the top before increasing the lead to 0.21 in the midsection.
Maier pumped his fists in the air at the finish area in front of thousands of fans waving Austrian flags.[pagebreak]It was Fill's second straight podium finish and best career result. He finished third at the super-combi in Wengen last week.
"I didn't think it would go so well again, the Italian said, adding that the crumbling course conditions favored low start numbers. He was the seventh starter.
Reichelt, who posted his first career title in a super-G at Beaver Creek, Colorado, earlier in the season, made the podium for the fourth time.
The World Cup continues Saturday with the downhill, which will also count as part of the combined, in which the times of the downhill and Sunday's slalom are added to give a result.
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press