ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — Hannes Reichelt doesn’t feel even close to over the hill. On the contrary, the Austrian standout feels faster than ever on it.
Reichelt became the second-oldest racer to win a World Cup super-G as he cruised through a challenging course virtually mistake-free Thursday.
Reichelt navigated the tricky setup in 1 minute, 8.22 seconds to beat Dominik Paris of Italy by 0.11 seconds at World Cup Finals. Swiss skier Mauro Caviezel and Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde tied for third.
At 36, Reichelt has uncovered another burst of speed, especially after a back surgery in September has him feeling almost as good as new. Only Didier Cuche of Switzerland was older when winning a World Cup super-G. Cuche was 37 when he beat Reichelt & Co. in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, on Feb. 24, 2012.
“Everybody is talking about that in ski sport — 36 and you’re the old guy,” Reichelt said. “I think with that age and that experience, you’re getting really good and maybe the thinking that the sport is for younger guys, like 20 or 25, maybe that’s the wrong thinking. In downhill and super-G, it’s very important, the experience. For me, speed events are good for old guys.”
There were five racers who didn’t finish and two more were disqualified. The slope was that challenging.
Not for Reichelt, though.
“A lot of bumps and also the course setting was not easy,” Reichelt said. “It’s fun to race.”
Then again, he always seems to make himself at home on U.S. snow. He’s been on the podium six times, including three wins, at the World Cup races in Beaver Creek, Colorado. He also won a super-G at Beaver Creek during the 2015 world championships.
“There’s nothing special,” Reichelt insisted of the snow conditions. “But maybe it’s the fans — the fans and people watching the races.”
Kjetil Jansrud of Norway wound up ninth, but it didn’t matter as he already had the season-long super-G title locked up before the race. His final margin was 91 points over Reichelt.
In doing so, he kept the super-G globe in the Norwegian family for a sixth straight season. Aksel Lund Svindal, who’s currently recovering from knee surgery, won the discipline three straight seasons, Jansrud in ’14-15 and Kilde last season.
So, what gives with the Norwegians’ superiority in the super-G?
“Not sure,” Jansrud said. “If I knew, I would never tell you. It’s been six years of super-G, which is very humbling and definitely something you can hope for it, but you can’t take it for granted.”
As the first racer to take the hill, Jansrud said his goal Thursday wasn’t so much to win, but to give a reliable course report to his teammate Kilde.
“Since I clinched a globe, it was more important to get him on the podium,” Jansrud said. “We managed that.”
Not known as a speed skier, Marcel Hirscher of Austria took the course to get a glimpse of the hill ahead of the giant slalom and slalom. He finished 11th.
Hirscher clinched his sixth straight overall World Cup crown before finals.
It’s been a productive week for Paris, who won the downhill race Wednesday.
Like Reichelt, the 31-year-old Jansrud feels he’s just entering his prime — using all that racing background to his benefit.
“It’s got a lot to do with routine, a lot to do with the way you learn the small details, the small techniques that you learn every year, how you work with the equipment, the technique, to be a better glider,” Jansrud said. “I think it’s something you learn with age as much as learn by training. From my side, it’s very happy to see dinosaurs like Reichelt win, which means I can keep on a few more years.”
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer