James Crawford was still far too far away to hear it, but received a standing ovation from the few hundred VIPs, journalists and other volunteers in the finish area when he reached the first split of the men’s super-G of the Cortina d’Ampezzo Worlds. The Canadian, wearing bib number 4, was not even going to finish in the top ten, but he had just “survived” a passage which had led to the elimination of the first three competitors.
A few hundred meters after the starting gate, the aptly named “Vertigine Jump” sent the Austrian Christian Walder offside, then the Swiss Loïc Meillard and Mauro Caviezel. All guilty of having approached it with too much speed, then unable to straighten their trajectory enough to stay on the track. The realization then focused its camera on the head of the races, the Italian Markus Waldner, who looked grim. And everyone wondered what would happen if the skiers continued to be eliminated one after the other in the same place …
Loïc “Ammann” Meillard
But James Crawford arrived, and it happened to him. For the following too. The info must have ended up coming back up, and everyone was using their own technique to negotiate the ambush. Some put the brakes on hard to avoid jumping. Others have only sought to measure the flight. Because Loïc Meillard was not far from taking himself for Simon Ammann. “I was not scared, no, he laughed in the finish area. To tell the truth, I even had fun on this jump, it was quite surprising! ”
Okay, of course that didn’t do its business. But “it’s part of the game,” he admitted, very fair play. “I had bib 2, so I didn’t know what problem Christian Walder had had when I passed. On reconnaissance, we saw that the jump was long. The forerunners also reported it. But after that, we didn’t expect to have to brake either… It’s not the natural reflex when you’re on a super-G track. I have the feeling that with my bib number, anyone would have gone out there. ”
“The super-G goes very quickly, but you don’t have training to test lines like downhill. You have to be able to imagine everything during the reconnaissance, and then go without a net. That’s the beauty of this discipline, ”Didier Défago recently told us. This is all the more true on a track like the Olympia delle Tofane that male athletes do not race in the World Cup, and therefore discovered this Thursday. For those sacrificed at the start of the race, she had something unforgiving.
So close, so different
The rascal then smiled at very diverse profiles. Winner, Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr was clearly one of the favorites, okay. But the German Romed Baumann (35), second, had not been on a World Cup podium since 2015 and the French Alexis Pinturault (29), third, is especially expected in other specialties (combined, giant, slalom). Leader of the World Cup, he obtained a first medal which was sure to give him confidence for the future. Will he be the big man of the fortnight?
For the ladies:
The other two Swiss in the running, Marco Odermatt and Beat Feuz, finished as close at the finish (tenth and eleventh, 0”03 apart) as they are far apart in their characteristics. The proof that in alpine skiing, there are different ways to achieve a similar performance. But this Thursday, it was necessary in any case to avoid the “small” numbers.