Vincent Kriechmayr takes super-G race for 1st World Cup win

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria found his moment in the sun. It peeked out through the clouds just in time for his first World Cup win.

Kriechmayr proficiently navigated a bumpy super-G course on Friday in good light conditions while many others struggled in the uneven light that bathed the hill.

He finished in a time of 1 minute, 9.71 seconds to beat Kjetil Jansrud of Norway by 0.23 seconds. Kriechmayr’s teammate Hannes Reichelt finished third.

“Of course, the weather god was with me,” Kriechmayr said. “I had a really good view. Everything looked perfect for me.”

It certainly was a lights-out performance for the 26-year-old Kriechmayr, who made few mistakes on a challenging hill. Kriechmayr was the third skier to take the course and glided through the top portion about as well as he could in rather sunny conditions. He made a slight mistake near the bottom and didn’t know if that would come back to cost him.

He anxiously waited to see if his time might indeed hold up. As the sun continued to move in and out of the clouds — 16 racers didn’t finish — he thought the best shot to knock him from the top spot would be Jansrud at No. 15.

“After Kjetil, I knew it was fast enough for a podium and fast enough for a victory,” Kriechmayr said.

As for the changing lighting conditions, hey, that’s just racing.

“This is an outdoor sport,” said Jansrud, who won the season opening super-G last weekend in Lake Louise. “The weather is going to vary. I don’t think I got the worst light or the best light. The course setting, together with the snow conditions, made it a little rattle-y under foot.

“Kriechmayr, this might be his catalyst to start winning. He’s skiing very fast. … Hats off to Hannes. You know if he skis fast in the early season, he’s going to be extremely tough to beat in January and February. Those are his months.”

Canadian Dustin Cook finished 20th while Manuel Osborne-Paradis was 30th.

The first World Cup victory for Kriechmayr arrived 12 years to the day — and on the same course — where Reichelt won his inaugural race.

“That only shows I’m an old guy,” the 36-year-old Reichelt said. “It’s completely OK, that he’s winning that race. It was his time to win.”

Before Friday, Kriechmayr had three World Cup podium finishes — second place twice in Kvitfjell, Norway, and a third-place showing in 2016 at the super-G test event for the Pyeongchang Olympics.

“Hopefully, it’s not the last time” for a win, Kriechmayr said.

One drawback: He has to subdue his celebrating. After all, there’s a downhill race Saturday.

“Of course, the first victory, I will drink some beer with my friends,” Kriechmayr said. “We have a really good team. I hope I can beat Hannes again.”

There was a touching moment soon after Adrien Theaux finished his run. He pointed up to the sky in honour of his French teammate David Poisson, who was killed while training in Canada on Nov. 13.

“I think about him every time,” said Theaux, who finished fourth. “For sure, when I crossed the finish line, I thought about him.”

The Americans struggled on the closest thing the team has to a home course. Andrew Weibrecht had the best finish in 21st place, 1.63 seconds behind Kriechmayr. Three more U.S. skiers didn’t finish, including Ted Ligety, who’s working his way into form after back surgery.

“For this calibre of racing, our team is not quite up to speed yet,” Weibrecht said. “We need to keep working on it. It’s not far off. We’re not where we want to be.”

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