Hermann Maier scored his first World Cup win in almost three years in Lake Louise’s difficult Super-G on Sunday. The Austrian, who turns 36 next Sunday, achieved an almost flawless run on the demanding ‘Olympic Run’ to bag his 54th World Cup victory, his fourth in a Super-G in the Canadian resort.
Maier had been lackluster the last two seasons with only two podium finishes and his last victory dated back to January 2006, when he won a Downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
But in a race which saw favorite Bode Miller lose a ski and nearly crash out after having clocked the fastest intermediate times, Maier was back to his exceptional best six weeks after finding out that he suffered a slim fracture at a disk between his 4th and 5th vertebras which prevented him to properly exercise for several weeks. He only managed to ski again ten days ago during a short training camp at Sun Peaks, BC.
At the end of a long wait, Maier could jubilate and enjoy another great comeback thanks to his large win over Canada’s John Kucera and HEAD team mate Didier Cuche.
24th win in Super-G for Maier
Maier showed once again that he was arguably the best Super-G specialist of all time. It was his 24th World Cup victory in the discipline, his 37th podium in the event and his sixth podium in the Lake Louise Super-G!
“It’s pretty amazing, I didn’t expect this at all this morning,” Maier said after the race. “I felt confident after my good downhill run yesterday but I was not aiming for victory today. I thought it would take much longer for me to get back at the top. It’s certainly my most significant win here. It means a lot after all the problems I had recently. Three weeks ago I couldn’t even move around because of my sore back.”
“This win is a strong boost for my confidence but it doesn’t mean I’m going to win all the coming races,” Maier added. “I’ll take them day-by-day and keep on working hard to improve my shape. I’m still not as strong as I was last summer yet at least I know I can win again. I’m happy not to have given up last spring.”
“I’m looking forward for an exciting week at Beaver Creek where I’ll also celebrate my 36th birthday on Sunday. I made myself the most perfect gift – in fact it was my main goal entering the season. Now I can relax and ski with much less pressure. The good thing is that I don’t need to win all the time as I used to. In past years, I was also thinking about winning the next race and the one after and so on. Now I want to take it easier and enjoy it more!”
The coming races in Colorado are crucial for unlucky Miller who didn’t manage to achieve his potential this week in Canada. He made a perfect start in the Super-G, leading Maier by some two tenths of a second at the first intermediate time but he lost a ski and crashed out of contention before the half-way mark.
The 31-year-old reigning World Cup champion is still without a win after four races this campaign. He was 2nd in slalom at Levi, Finland, two weeks ago and seemed to be on a run earlier this week during the training runs.
He already won twice the spectacular ‘Birds of Prey’ downhill at Beaver Creek where Maier was almost unbeatable prior his dramatic motorcycle accident in August 2001. The Austrian also clinched two gold medals there in 1999 in the speed events.