Defending overall champion Aksel Lund Svindal wins World Cup super-G

Defending overall World Cup champion Aksel Lund Svindal won a super-G on Friday for his first victory of the season.

VAL GARDENA, Italy — Defending overall World Cup champion Aksel Lund Svindal won a super-G on Friday for his first victory of the season.

Svindal showed he’s regained his form after a lower leg injury. The Norwegian covered the 1.5-mile Saslong course in one minute 38.35 seconds for the 13th World Cup victory of his career. Carlo Janka of Switzerland was second, 0.12 seconds behind, and Patrick Staudacher of Italy was third.

Svindal skipped a race in Levi, Finland, in November after bruising himself in pre-season training.

Super-G world champion Didier Cuche of Switzerland skied off course early in his run. Cuche skied with a broken rib after a training fall in Val d’Isere, France, last week.

Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., and Robbie Dixon of Whistler, B.C., were seventh and eighth, respectively. Vancouver’s Manuel Osborne-Paradis was 17th, while Louis-Pierre Helie of Quebec City finished 50th.

Francois Bourque hit a gate near after a jump near the end of the course. The L’Ange Gardien, Que., native pulled up before the finish and bent over in apparent pain.

The Canadian team has been particularly hard hit by injuries this season, already losing downhill world champion John Kucera, Jean-Philippe Roy, Larisa Yurkiw and Kelly Vanderbeek.

Janka won three consecutive races in Beaver Creek, Colo., this month, then failed to finish all three races in Val d’Isere. Janka moved back to the top of the overall standings with 540 points, 25 ahead of Austrian rival Benjamin Raich, who placed ninth. Svindal moved ahead of Cuche into third with 388 points.

Staudacher won the super-G at the 2007 world championships in Are, Sweden, but this was his first World Cup podium result in any discipline.

The race was run in frigid conditions. Snow conditions were optimal but several racers fell, along with Andrej Jerman of Slovenia.

Jerman had trouble landing a jump near the end of the course and hit a gate at full speed. It didn’t take him long to get up, though, and he skied down under his own strength.

Local favourites Werner Heel and Christof Innerhofer of Italy also fell.

The classic downhill is scheduled for Saturday on the Saslong, with the circuit traversing the Gardena pass to nearby Alta Badia for giant slalom and slalom races Sunday and Monday.

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