Odermatt collects 3rd men's super-G win of season, beating rival in injury return
Swiss skier in top form ahead of alpine worlds; Alberta’s Jeff Read career-best 7th
Swiss skier Marco Odermatt won a men's World Cup super-G on Saturday in a triumphant return from his injury layoff, 10 days before the start of the world championships.
Odermatt skipped two races last week to rest a sore left knee but the defending overall champion was back to his best on the scenic Olympia delle Tofane course, beating his Norwegian rival Aleksander Aamodt Kilde by 0.35 seconds.
It was Odermatt's third super-G win of the season, while Kilde won the other two events.
"It's maybe my most special win," Odermatt said from Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. "When I went back on snow two, three days ago, it felt like I had been away for a long time. The trust in my body, in my knee, was gone. Now I'm a bit speechless."
Mattia Casse finished 0.49 behind in third for the Italian's best career result in the discipline, followed by Austrian trio Stefan Babinsky, world super-G champion Vincent Kriechmayr, and Lukas Feuerstein.
Eight Canadians competed, led by Jeff Read of Canmore, Alta., who was a career-best seventh (1:26.46) in his 60th World Cup. Jack Crawford placed 15th of 45 finishers (1:26.82) while Brodie Seger of North Vancouver, B.C., was the other Canadian to finish inside the top 20 in 18th (1:26.99).
The track was tough but starting late I got a good look at it on the monitors and saw how to carry speed.— Canada's Jeff Read after his 7th-place finish
Starting 44th on a mostly sunny day, Read punched his way to his first top 10 this World Cup season and second of his career.
"Today's run was a lot of fun," said a smiling Read, who matched his seventh-place performance in the downhill last season in Kvitfjell, Norway. "I had a really good feeling in the days leading up to today. I knew the speed was there, we had a really good plan and I was able to go out there and execute.
"The track was tough but starting late I got a good look at it on the monitors and saw how to carry speed."
WATCH | Read finishes career-best 7th in World Cup super-G:
Read noted the result gives him added confidence entering the Feb. 6-19 world championships in France.
"It lowers my start number, putting me in the mix with the top guys. It's really exciting," he said. "The podium is just a few more tenths [of a second] away."
Calgary's Trevor Philp (1:27.64) and Cameron Alexander (1:28.49) of North Vancouver, B.C., were 33rd and 42nd, respectively, while Broderick Thompson (Whistler, B.C.) Kyle Alexander (North Vancouver) and Riley Seger (Vancouver) were among 15 skiers who didn't finish their run.
Odermatt had not raced since hurting his left knee eight days ago in an acrobatic recovery from a near-crash at a downhill in Kitzbuehel.
Mastered bottom of course
He sat out another downhill the following day and only went back on snow for a training session in Austria on Wednesday but skipped a giant slalom in Schladming that evening.
Odermatt was behind Kilde's time early in his run, but mastered the bottom section and held both hands to his helmet after finishing in apparent disbelief.
"The adrenaline at the start was worth gold," said Odermatt, who used a bag of ice to cool his knee after his run.
The course in the Italian Dolomites with its marquee Tofane Schuss is a usual stop on the women's circuit but was hosting a men's World Cup race for the first time in more than three decades.
Three of the first four starters failed to finish, missing gates as they appeared to misjudge their speed in some turns.
One of them was Loic Meillard, Odermatt's Swiss teammate who won Wednesday's GS in Austria, who posted the fastest split times in the middle section before missing a gate near the end of his run.
Christof Innerhofer crashed and slid into the safety netting after hitting a gate with his face. The Italian got up and skied down with a bloody chin and nose but seemed not seriously injured.
Another super-G is scheduled for Sunday, the last men's World Cup speed race before the Feb. 6-19 world championships in France.
WATCH | Full coverage of Saturday's event from Italy:
With files from CBC Sports