Austria's Reichelt wins super-G at worlds; Miller gashes leg
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) Bode Miller smacked a gate so hard he crashed, opening a deep gash on his right calf. Kjetil Jansrud later hit another panel and had to have his left shoulder checked out.
This demanding and daunting course took a toll on some of the biggest names in skiing.
Not Hannes Reichelt, though. The Austrian tamed this tricky terrain, just as he did this season in a World Cup race.
Reichelt won the super-G at the world championships Thursday, a race in which a crash sent Miller tumbling down the hill and to the hospital.
Reichelt finished the challenging course in 1 minute, 15.68 seconds 0.11 seconds faster than Canada's Dustin Cook, who made a surprise run from back in the pack. Adrien Theaux of France earned the bronze.
Everyone was talking about Miller's horrific crash, including the winner.
"If you know Bode, sometimes it looks really bad, then he stands up and nothing happened," Reichelt said. "I hope he's safe and nothing happened."
That's still to be determined. The U.S. team said the cut was being evaluated by medical staff.
Miller had a strong run going when he hooked his left arm on a gate, spun backward, lost his right ski, then his left, and went somersaulting down the mountain. He appeared to fall on top of one of his bouncing skis, causing the deep wound. Miller gingerly got up, retrieved his gear and even finished the race as his wife, pro volleyball player Morgan Miller, watched in the gallery while holding his son.
"Bode was skiing outstanding," U.S. men's coach Sasha Rearick said. "He was going for it, absolutely sending it from top to bottom. He took risks and was putting down a run that inspired America, inspires the world.
"He took a nasty crash. A really nasty crash."
It was Miller's first race since back surgery in November and yet he didn't hold back. He never does.
"Bode knew he had to put it on the limit in order to get on the podium today," said teammate Ted Ligety, who couldn't successfully defend his super-G world title from two years ago in Austria, finishing ninth. "What happened today was more just back luck."
U.S. skier Travis Ganong said he talked to Miller in the finish area.
"He said his whole body was numb. Everything hurt," Ganong said. "He said he has to get 100 stitches in his calf. I hope the best for him."
If he can't get back in time for the downhill Saturday or the super-combined Sunday, this may have been Miller's last big race. At 37, Miller was pointing to the worlds in his comeback from herniated disk surgery. He wasn't sure how much longer he would race.
Asked if he thought Miller might return for the downhill, Rearick said, "I hope so. I hope so."
Miller wasn't the only skier to get caught up in a gate. Jansrud crashed through one with his left shoulder, but kept going and tied for fourth. The Norwegian team later said the shoulder appeared OK, but he was in pain.
Jansrud, the Olympic super-G champion at the Sochi Games, is still looking for his first medal at the worlds.
This is Reichelt's first world championship gold medal. He's made himself right at home on this course, winning a World Cup super-G at Beaver Creek in December.
"That's sounds really good world champion," said Reichelt, who had herniated disk surgery a year ago that knocked him out of the Sochi Olympics. "I'm feeling relaxed. The pressure before was really high. Not from outside, but from my side.
"I said, 'OK, you have to repeat the success of December. To repeat something is so difficult."
Cook started as racer No. 28, but used a fast run to finish a surprising runner-up. Well, to everyone else, that is.
"I'm a lot less surprised than most people are," Cook said. "I've been skiing really fast all year, fast in training for too many years. For me, it's a culmination of a lot of years. I know that I'm capable of this for sure."
There must be something about North American snow that appeals to Theaux. Of his 10 World Cup podium finishes, four are either in Lake Louise, Alberta, or Beaver Creek.
"It's just perfect," Theaux said. "It's a great, great day for me. I think the most beautiful of my life."
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway made his first start of the season after Achilles tendon surgery in October. He was pleased with sixth place.
"I wasn't focused on the bad parts, the fact I didn't ski the last three months," Svindal explained. "I focused on the fact I had a lot of skiing in me and tried to make it happen."