Aleksander Aamodt Kilde anxiously jumped up from the leader’s chair several times, but on each occasion he sat down again and puffed out his cheeks in relief as none of his rivals managed to beat the Norwegian’s time in the penultimate World Cup super-G of the season on Sunday.
Kilde pleased his home crowd by winning the race and locking up the season discipline title with a race to spare.
“I almost had a heart attack here. It’s a good mix of a lot of emotions,” Kilde said.
The Olympic bronze medalist mastered a downhill-like, fast course set on the Oympiabakken hill in sunny conditions to edge James Crawford by 0.07 seconds as the Canadian earned his first career podium.
Olympic super-G champion Matthias Mayer of Austria was 0.12 behind in third.
“To win on home soil, together with the Norwegian crowd, beautiful weather, great conditions, it couldn’t be better,” Kilde said.
It was Kilde’s 13th career win, all in the speed events of downhill and super-G. But it was only his first World Cup win in 18 starts at the Alpine skiing venue of the 1994 Winter Games.
Kilde’s main rival for the super-G title, Marco Odermatt, trailed by 61 points going into the race. But the Swiss skier, whose strongest event is the giant slalom, struggled throughout on the course set by the coach of the Swiss speed team, Manfred Widauer.
“He has been thinking more about Beat (Feuz) and Niels (Hintermann), who were strong in the downhills, than about me,” Odermatt said about his coach after he finished 1.68 behind in 28th and scored just three points.
As a result, Odermatt dropped to third in the discipline standings, behind Mayer, and neither can now overtake Kilde at the season-ending race in Courchevel on March 17.
“The speed globes were never really an issue for me,” Odermatt said. “I knew it would be very difficult here against the real speed specialists.”
Odermatt has gained only 39 points across the three races in Norway this weekend but remains a strong favorite for the World Cup overall title. He still leads runner-up Kilde, the 2019-20 champion, by 189 points with five technical and two speed races remaining.
Both racers were expected to skip a night slalom in Austria on Wednesday, while Kilde announced he will also sit out two giant slaloms in Slovenia next weekend as they don’t fit into his schedule.
The second GS in Kranjska Gora ends Sunday afternoon, while the first downhill training in Courchevel, some 900 kilometres away, is on Monday morning.
“I am fully focusing on speed, on super-G and downhill,” Kilde said. “The day after the race (in Slovenia) is training in Courchevel, that is a long drive. I think it’s better to focus on speed and maybe do the giant slalom at the finals.”
Kilde was previously crowned as the season’s best super-G racer in 2016, making him the seventh male skier to win the prize at least twice.
Two Norwegians had already achieved the feat: Aksel Lund Svindal, who won it a record five times, and Kjetil Jansrud, who retired after Saturday’s downhill and has three super-G globes.
Dominik Paris finished 0.21 behind in fourth, a day after the Italian won the downhill on the same hill, and Olympic downhill champion Feuz trailed by 0.31 in fifth. The rest of the field was more than seven-tenths of a second off the pace.
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