Christof Innerhofer from South Tyrol somewhat surprisingly skied the winning time on the Saslong but the true surprise was Andreas Sander from Germany who started with bib number 64 and placed third. Well-seasoned Michael Walchhofer (+0.07 seconds, AUT) squeezed in between those two. Fifth is yet another local favourite, Werner Heel.
Innerhofer might not have scored any World Cup points on the Saslong so far and he also doesn’t really believe in his surfing capabilities but he has shown his true strength on the Saslong today. At the end of his run, Innerhofer wasn’t exactly sure what made him so fast, particularly the ride over Ciaslat: “I have no idea how I mastered Ciaslat that well. I’ve never liked the Saslong as much as I do this year and hope that conditions won’t change too much until Saturday. Even a little bit of snow would make a huge difference.”
The main reason Innerhofer gave such a strong showing is probably because he loves difficult courses and the Saslong is faster than in years past. The South Tyrolean’s clocked time of 1:57.76 minutes gives proof of this as it undercuts last year’s winning time set by Manuel Osborne-Paradis by 3 seconds.
The fast and slick course brings it all down to the Ciaslat entry with The Finish jump also posing a challenge for the racers. But the best performance aside from Christof Innerhofer was given by an experienced Michael Walchhofer and by the surprise of the race, Andreas Sander in 3rd place. This German athlete (27) managed to reach the top three (0.27 seconds delay) with starting as 64th and pushing Bode Miller to fourth.
Werner Heel, yet another local favourite, placed fourth. He completed his first full training run given yesterday’s interruption due to Andreas Scheiber’s fall.
This selective course promises for a thrilling race on Saturday. No fewer than 15 racers have placed within the 1 second mark. The program here in Gardena-Gröden continues with tomorrow’s Super-G at 12:15 pm and Saturday’s classic Downhill.