The alpine skiing world championships in Schladming, Austria, got off to a false start when the women’s Super-G had to be delayed because of poor visibility yesterday.
Scheduled for 10am, the inaugural event of the skiing tournament in the Austrian resort was pushed back to 2:30pm because of heavy fog on the piste.
Schladming has not been too lucky with the weather so far as rain has fallen heavily this week.
In the men’s super-G, scheduled for today, Aksel Lund Svindal has been virtually unbeatable this season, but if anyone is capable of beating the Norwegian in the opening men’s race it will likely be a member of the standout Italian speed team.
Italy’s Christof Innerhofer is the defending champion in the event and he won the super-G at Schladming last season, while teammate Matteo Marsaglia has been the only man to beat Svindal in a super-G this season with his first career win in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Other Italian threats include Werner Hell, who finished third in the super-G at Val Gardena, Italy, in December, and Peter Fill, who took silver in the super-G at the 2009 world championships in Val d’Isere, France.
Dominik Paris, the Italian who has won two downhills this season — including the season highlight in Kitzbuehel — will skip the super-G to rest up for the downhill on Saturday.
After his super-G win two years ago at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Innerhofer went on to add a silver and bronze in other events. After back problems slowed him last season, “Winnerhofer” showed he was back in form by winning two downhills this season.
“The pressure isn’t something negative for me. Actually, it pleases me, it means I’ve done a good job to this point, but here in Austria I’m starting over from zero,” Innerhofer said. “The medals I won have been set aside and the past doesn’t count anymore. I’ve had a great season and I’m in form. I’ve just got to go for it and not be afraid of anything. The Schladming course suits my type of skiing.”
Still, it is Svindal’s race to lose.
He has won three of the four super-Gs this season and finished second to Marsaglia in the other. He is also the Olympic super-G champion.
Kjetil Jansrud, another Norwegian, is also a threat with two fourth places in super-G this season, as is Ted Ligety of the US, who also has two fourths in the discipline.
The Schladming course is steep and twisting, favoring technical specialists such as Ligety.
“It always depends on the set,” US head coach Sasha Rearick said. “A super-G on a hill like this is fantastic because you can really vary a lot. It’s the Norwegians choice. I think they are going to set more on the technical side because it fits their skiers.”
Overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher could have also been a threat, but he is not entered, preferring to focus on the giant slalom and slalom instead.