Tue, Nov 28, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Kucera skis to Super-G win at home

AFP , LAKE LOUISE, CANADA

John Kucera of Calgary, Canada, flies down the course on his way to winning the Lake Louise men's Super-G race at Lake Louise, Canada, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

John Kucera became the first Canadian to win a men's World Cup ski race on home snow in 17 years by capturing the season-opening Super-G on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Kucera was the first racer out of the gate and withstood a challenge from the rest of the field to upset the heavily favored Austrians, who had been dominating the training runs all week.

Kucera finished in one minute, 29.70 seconds on the Whitehorn Mountain course to win by a wafer-thin margin of .06 seconds ahead of Austria's Mario Scheiber (1:29.76) with Swede Patrik Jaerbyn third at 1:29.98.

"It hasn't sunk in," said Kucera, who had all his family and friends watching in the grandstand. "I was really relaxed at the start. I just focused on what I needed to do. I skied strong and I am happy."

Kucera became the first Canadian racer to win at Lake Louise and only the second in history behind Rob Boyd to win a World Cup race in Canada. Boyd won a downhill in Whistler in 1989.

Kucera braved chilly temperatures of minus 25oC to fly down the 2.51km course and win US$23,000. Scheiber collected US$15,000 for second place and Jaerbyn grabbed US$11,000 for third.

Kucera's win, coupled with Canadian Manuel Osborne-Paradis' second-place finish in Sat-urday's downhill, brought back memories of the glory days of the "Crazy Canucks" in the 1980s.

"It is an amazing feeling. We had two guys on podium in two days. Our team is strong and coming along," Kucera said.

Scheiber, 23, is in his fourth season on the World Cup circuit. His best previous Super-G finish was a third in Beaver Creek in 2004 and he placed seventh in the Lake Louise Super-G two years ago.

"It was a great competition. Conditions were perfect," Scheiber said. "It was an excellent run or I would not be on the podium. I am really happy about the way I skied."

At 37, Jaerbyn was the oldest skier in Sunday's race. He has been on the circuit since 1992 and is still seeking his first career victory. He has one World Championship medal -- a silver in the Super-G in 1996.

"It was fine. The visibility was decent," Jaerbyn said. "You don't feel the cold until you come through finish line and you stop and then you take your boots."

It was a disappointing weekend for the Austrians, who took just two of the top nine spots on Sunday after being held off the podium for the first time here in Saturday's downhill.

Two-time Olympic champion Hermann Maier finished fourth in 1:30.16 while reigning World Cup overall champ Benjamin Raich, also of Austria, finished 10th in 1:30.65.

Liechtenstein's Mario Buechel became the oldest man to win a World Cup downhill on Saturday but he looked his 35 years on Sunday by finishing in 21st.

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