BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) — Now this was a party: the five of them crammed onto the stage to spray sparkling wine and pose for a few pictures.
Rarely has a podium been this crowded — or this lively.
Austrian Max Franz conquered the snow and fog Saturday for his first World Cup super-G victory in a tightly contested affair that resulted in five racers sharing the top three spots.
Franz finished in 1 minute, 1.91 seconds to hold off Mauro Caviezel of Switzerland by 0.33 seconds. There was a three-way tie for third among Norwegian teammates Aksel Lund Svindal and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Italy’s Dominik Paris. The trio was 0.41 seconds behind.
After the race, the celebration kicked up a notch.
“It’s the first time I’ve been on the podium with five guys,” the veteran Svindal said. “This is better. We don’t have to fight. Let’s tie and get everyone up there and it’s a party.”
The only other time a World Cup race ended with three racers tied for third place was a downhill in 1973, according to information provided by the International Ski Federation.
“It’s crazy, yeah?” Paris said.
A crazy day all around.
Racing was delayed an hour as course workers cleared a considerable amount of snow from the track. With snowflakes still falling, Franz found just a little more speed than everyone else.
For that, he credits a mistake near the top when he went too straight into a turn.
“In my head, I made a mistake so I have to push more,” explained Franz, who won a downhill last weekend at Lake Louise. “The race was really good.”
This marked the second straight day Caviezel and Svindal wound up on the podium. They finished in the same spots during the downhill.
“It’s just great,” Caviezel said. “I don’t know what’s going on. It’s a good feeling.”
To pass the time during the delay, Svindal said a group of competitors played the card game “UNO.” He kept losing because, as he found out later, the dealers were good-naturedly stacking the deck.
“I was like, ‘Really, this is not my lucky day,'” Svindal said.
Turns out, it was. He had a little help, though.
The third racer on the hill, Kilde had a solid run and jumped on the radio to give Svindal a quick course report.
Kilde’s advice: Stay in the tracks.
“I told him what he should think about, and where the tricky spots were and where it’s fast,” Kilde said.
Svindal took mental notes and followed a similar line to wind up with the same time as Kilde and Paris.
“The conditions were actually not too bad,” Svindal said. “It was snowing like crazy for a while. When you have that good of a course crew, you actually feel confident that the skiing will actually be OK. You know they wouldn’t start a race unless the conditions were OK.”
Svindal has 15 top-three finishes at the World Cup stop.
“I’ve had a lot of success here,” he said. “Happy to be here every time.”
Svindal suffered a left thumb injury during a recent training crash that’s forced him to tape the ski pole to his glove. It means he can’t push off out of the starting gate.
No matter. Svindal still generates speed.
There were some surprising charges from back in the pack when the snow briefly stopped. Christoph Krenn of Austria began 35th and moved up to sixth, while Klemen Kosi of Slovenia started 33rd and finished ninth. American Steven Nyman had a big leap, too, going from No. 64 to 20th.
The top performance by the U.S. was turned in by Travis Ganong, who finished 15th as he steadily makes his way back from a knee injury.
“I just was ready to push harder and turn my brain off and just enjoy it,” Ganong explained. “That’s what it takes. It’s amazing how your mind can dictate how your results are. When you’re thinking too much, it gets in the way of skiing sometimes.”