SCHLADMING, Austria — Aksel Lund Svindal was far ahead of his downhill competitors at worlds championships in every aspect – technically, physically and tactically.
Mastering a bumpy and icy course made more difficult by a light snowfall and low visibility, Svindal won the downhill title Saturday by a huge margin.
Other contenders ran into trouble on the 2-mile Planai course, especially on the steep, final pitch where skiers had to dig their edges in hardest just when their legs began to weaken.
“The game plan was to be pushing all the way down to the last pitch, than be tactical at two gates there then push hard again,” Svindal said. “It’s never perfect but I had a very good run. When I came down and I was fast I was happy because I definitely didn’t want to go up and do it again because I didn’t have any more (energy).”
Svindal clocked 2 minutes, 1.32 seconds to win by nearly half a second and secure his second world title in skiing’s signature event, having also won in Are, Sweden, in 2007.
Dominik Paris, of Italy, who leads this season’s World Cup downhill standings by three points ahead of Svindal, took the silver medal, 0.46 behind.
With 2005 champion Bode Miller sitting out for the season recovering from knee surgery, the Americans failed to make an impact.
Less than 2 hours before the start of the race, Andrew Weibrecht posted the fastest time in an additional 50-second training run on the bottom part of the course. But he finished only 22nd in the race, 3.25 seconds behind Svindal, for the top U.S. result.
Miller, who attended the race, is expected back next season and plans to compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“He was one who always seemed to pull it through in these situations and it’s tough not having him,” said Marco Sullivan, who opened the season with a third-place result in Lake Louise. “But we saw in training and the past races we’ve all been skiing pretty well. We just have to make that jump to doing it in big events.”
WOMEN’S SKI JUMP: In Yamagata, Japan, strong winds forced organizers to call off a women’s ski jump World Cup event at the Zao ski resort in Japan and move it to today.