Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal ended the run of upstes at the Alpine Skiing World Championships by retaining his title in the super combined on Monday.
Svindal was more than one second faster than his rivals over the two legs consisting of a downhill and slalom as he collected the fourth world title of his prolific career.
Uninjured after crashing in the finish area of Saturday’s downhill where he finished fifth, the Norwegian was the first big name to win a race at an event which has seen a string of shock wins.
Italian Christof Innerhofer continued his outstanding week by finishing second to collect his third medal of the championships following his gold in super-G and bronze in downhill.
“It’s really great to have a complete set of medals. I’ll never forget these world championships,” Innerhofer said.
His compatriot Peter Fill sprung another surprise by winning bronze, while the unhappy Swiss again left empty-handed on another spring-like day with warm sunshine and temperatures above 10?C.
Olympic champion Bode Miller’s hopes disappeared with an almost slapstick fall.
Tenth in the downhill, Miller sped out of the start, but his slalom run lasted just seconds as he tripped up after the second gate and flipped onto his backside, skis pointing upwards.
Svindal’s chances were helped by Ivica Kostelic’s decision to skip the event. The Croat decided to rest to concentrate on the season-long World Cup, which he leads and where he has won all three combined races.
Svindal led after the morning’s downhill race, completing the course 0.63 seconds ahead of Swiss Beat Feuz.
Austrian Benjamin Raich, eventually fourth, set the pace during the slalom with a combined time of 2 minutes, 56.68 seconds.
He held on to that spot as several skiers failed to complete the course, including Miller, fellow American Ted Ligety and Swiss Silvan Zurbriggen.
Fill made no mistake as he briefly held the lead before Innerhofer, next to race, took over.
Feuz appeared set to give Switzerland only their second medal of the championships to add to Didier Cuche’s downhill silver as he led until he straddled a gate near the end.
Svindal then held his nerve to win by 1.01 seconds.
The prolific Norwegian also won the downhill and giant slalom titles in Are, Sweden, in 2007 followed by the combined in Val D’Isere two years ago.
He is the super-G Olympic champion and has twice won the overall World Cup.
Svindal preferred not to get involved in a controversy about Kostelic’s absence and struggled to put a finger on his success.
“Maybe it’s because I have experience in dealing with pressure and I know how to react to it,” he said. “You have to think of it as an opportunity and if you don’t make it, a new one will come along some other time. Maybe the fact I’m an overall skier is the reason I win so many medals.”
“Kostelic made the right decision for him. He went home because he is concentrating on the World Cup and I respect his decision,” Svindal added.