Staudacher wins men's super-G title

Team Infidel

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Associated Press

ARE, Sweden - Patrick Staudacher gave Italy its first super-G title ever at a men's Alpine Skiing World Championship on Tuesday.
Staudacher, who recently returned from eye surgery, took advantage of an early start number to charge down the Olympia course in a winning time of 1 minute, 14.30 seconds for the first major victory of his career..
"After I came down I was expecting a top-5 or top-6 result," said the 26-year-old Italian, who had the stitches removed for his cornea operation a month ago. "Being at the very top now is crazy."
Staudacher had never before climbed the podium in either a World Cup or world championship race.
"No one from my home town is here today," he said. "They're all coming for the downhill. No one was expecting this."
Defending champion Bode Miller of the United States finished way out of contention after several mistakes, losing almost half a second after hitting a gate with his shoulder on the bottom part of the course.
Miller, who won the super-G on this course at last year's World Cup finals, took a lot of risk on the upper section of the course but was perhaps too aggressive and took too tight a line. It also appeared that Miller may have hurt his wrist.
Austrian Fritz Strobl, the 20th skier out of the start, captured the silver medal with a time of 1:14.62.
"When I crossed the finish line I didn't have a good feeling. I felt I could have done more, given more," said the 2002 Olympic downhill champion, who was a controversial selection of the Austrian super-G squad at the championship. "This is great now, though, because there was a lot of talk when I was chosen to race. But I always said I'm not a joker but an ace."
Strobl was angry, however, about the starting order rules of the International Ski Federation, which reverses the top-30 skiers in the discipline ranked on the World Cup. It means the world's best super-G skier begins 30th when the course is usually rutted and chopped up.
"To have a late start number here was a disadvantage for every top runner," said the Austrian veteran. "It's not fair. We are the puppets of the FIS."
Switzerland's Bruno Kernen took the bronze in 1:14.92.
"Naturally I am enormously pleased," Kernen said. "In the finish area I was sure my time would not be good enough. I kept losing pressure on my outside ski. Now I have medal. That's unbelievable.
"In the upper and lower third you needed a lot of feeling. The middle section was very icy and you had to be merciless."
This was the first title awarded at the championships, where racing was delayed for three days because of strong winds and heavy snowfalls.
"The conditions were perfect today," said American Steven Nyman, who covered his head with his hands in the finish after crossing only 12th, .90 off the winning pace. "The snow was perfect and there was no wind."
Staudacher's previous best career result was sixth in a World Cup downhill at Bormio, Italy, earlier this season. His best super-G performance was eighth at Hinterstoder, Austria, in December.
In addition to eye surgery, Staudacher was also coming back from a knee injury after a fall in training 10 days ago in Italy.
"It's a big surprise," said Italian coach Adriano Ilisse. "We were all expecting Peter Fill to do better ... But Patrick has been coming along and he skied perfectly today."
Fill finished 14th, 1.01 behind.
Italy's previous best result in a men's super-G at the worlds was a fifth-place finish by Alberto Tomba at Vail in 1989.