Michael Walchhofer (Aut) has given proof in this World Cup Super-G in Gardena-Gröden that at 35 you are still at top of your game. The competition didn’t have a chance to even come close to the Austrian’s leading time of one minute and 34.35 seconds which placed him ahead of Stephan Keppler (Ger; +67/100 seconds) and Eric Guay (Can; 81/100 seconds). This is Walchhofer’s fourth victory on the Saslong.
The audience was already getting used to a new sensation in the Super-G on the Saslong: German skier Stephan Keppler gave a top performance with bib number 7 that set a benchmark too high for others to even meet, let alone exceed. Visibility deteriorated from skier to skier and a light snow-fall kicked in. Keppler’s victory seemed a fait accompli. But then Walchhofer kicked off at the starting gate. The Austrian skied strongly in the first half but went full throttle later on continuously gaining time on Keppler and landing at the Finish with a winning margin of 67/100 seconds. This is “Walchi’s” fourth victory in Gardena-Gröden and puts him at the level of Franz Klammer and Kristian Ghedina who have also both reached the top podium four times. Additionally, this puts Walchhofer at the top of current World Cup Overall standings. If Walchhofer takes tomorrow’s Downhill gold he will go down in history for having won most races here in Gardena-Gröden.
Eric Guay from Canada placed 3rd behind Walchhofer and Keppler with 81/100 seconds delay. Benjamin Raich and Romed Baumann round out the top five setting an overall impressive result for the Austrian ski team.
Best local skier was Werner Heel. He won this race two years ago but had to skip it due to injury last year placing 7th here today with a relatively high bib number (26). The remaining Italian athletes were less than impressive. However, they share their fate with other leading skiers such as Aksel Lund Svindal (fall), Bode Miller (+2.1 seconds delay; place 16) and Didier Cuche (1.6 seconds delay; place 11).
The program continues with tomorrow’s Downhill race. The start is set for 12:15 pm.