Ghedina storms to victory

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Kristian Ghedina's blistering run today was just too good to beat, even for the "Herminator."

Kristian Ghedina's blistering run today was just too good to beat, even for the "Herminator."

The daredevil Italian attacked the fast and bumpy downhill course to clinch his 11th World Cup win by a whopping 1.35 seconds.

"Beating the Austrians - especially Hermann Maier, who is in superb shape - was one of my goals," Ghedina said beaming. "Today I did it, and it proves I have the potential to do it again."

Maier, dubbed the "Herminator" because of his bulging muscles and aggressive style, finished a disappointing sixth - his worst result this season.

"I chose the wrong skis," Maier said. "But even if I had skied a few tenths faster there is no way I could catch Ghedina."

Maier lost his balance several times, nearly falling on the final bump before the finishline. He got thrown backwards and had to squat on his skis before regaining his tuck position.

It was Ghedina's third triumph on Val Gardena's 3.5 kilometer (2.2-mile) Saslong course - his favorite downhill race.

Reaching speeds of 135 kph (85mph), the Italian clocked a time of two minutes, 2.99 seconds.

"I can't believe I was so fast," Ghedina said. "I got thrown back on one corner and lost a lot of time."

Austrian Josef Strobl, winner of five World Cup events, was second in 2.04.34. Strobl, 25, captured a third place earlier this month in a downhill in Lake Louise, Canada.

Ed Podivinsky of Canada - racing on the course where he tore a knee ligament last year - was a surprise third Friday in 2:04.37.

"It feels great," Podivinsky said. "When I heard that my teammates had done well, I knew I could do even better."

Podivinsky's injury last year, on a frightening crash off one of the camel bumps, forced him to sit out the remainder of the season. He returned to the tour last month.

"I think about that section every time I get to it," Podivinsky said. "I probably take the widest line of anybody through those bumps."

Winner of a single World Cup in 1994, Podivinsky, 29, last stood on the podium in 1998 after finishing third in a combined event in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

Maier, a double Olympic and World champion, held onto his lead in the World Cup downhill, super-G and overall standings.

The Austrian is determined to reclaim the overall World Cup crown snatched from him last year by Norway's Lasse Kjuss. With a 195-point lead over teammate Stephan Eberharter, he is well on his way.

This season, Maier has claimed five victories and one second place - his worst result prior to today.

Kjus, winner of a record five medals at the World Championships last year, has the flu did not compete.

The Austrian power team, winner of six of the nine events disputed this season, had another good day Friday despite losing the first prize. Six Austrians finished in the top 10.

Today's race makes up for a downhill canceled two weeks ago in Val d'Isere, France because of heavy snowfall. A second downhill is scheduled in this alpine resort on Saturday, followed by a giant slalom in nearby Alta Badia on Sunday.