Attacking Vikings: Svindal leads Norway sweep of super-G
VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) For a nation better known for its exploits in Nordic sports, Norway has become quite adept at passing down success from generation to generation in Alpine skiing.
First there were Lasse Kjus and Kjetil Andre Aamodt - two of the most decorated Alpine skiers in history - then came Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud - two of the top current skiers.
Now, 23-year-old Aleksander Aamodt Kilde - no relation to Andre Aamodt - has made his breakthrough on the World Cup circuit.
In a memorable race for Norway, Svindal won a World Cup super-G ahead of Jansrud and Kilde for an ''Attacking Vikings'' podium sweep on Friday.
''Sharing it with the two oldest guys is amazing - especially when it's your first time on the podium,'' Kilde said. ''So it's a special day for Norway and a really special day for me.''
When Svindal, a two-time overall World Cup winner, began competing on the World Cup, he teamed with Kjus and Aamodt for a few seasons before they retired.
''We have a good tradition for working closely together as a team and that's something that I really learned from Kjus and Aamodt back then,'' Svindal said. ''I was lucky to get a few good years with them, and then Kjetil came in a few years after they retired, but then I was there and able to spend time with him in training. And now Alex comes in.''
Svindal, who has won this race a record four times, gave Kilde a few pointers during pre-race course inspection.
Starting with the No. 4 bib, Kilde took the early lead and held it until his more established teammates came down in the top group.
''Seeing his run I was like, `I think I gave too many answers,' because that was pretty perfect,'' Svindal said, alluding to inspection. ''But in Norway we say the old ones are still the oldest, and I guess I was the oldest one in the last split.''
While Svindal trailed Kilde at each interval, he gained more than half a second on the bottom of the Saslong course to cross in first, then pointed at Kilde. Jansrud came down right after Svindal and was only one hundredth back at the last split before dropping time on the final gates.
Svindal clocked 1 minute, 28.12 seconds for a 0.34-second advantage over Jansrud. Kilde finished 0.44 behind.
Jansrud won this race last year, while Kilde had never finished better than seventh in the World Cup. Kilde was 13th in the super-G at last year's Sochi Olympics, and he's a former world junior champion in giant slalom.
''We've been waiting for Alex for a while and now he proves how good of a skier he is,'' Jansrud said. ''This is our goal - to be on the podium together. I don't think this is an everyday happening.''
While the course was made up almost entirely of artificial snow amid unusually dry weather in the Dolomites Range, conditions were nearly perfect with the temperature 4 degrees (39 F).
''It's a course that I've always liked,'' Svindal said. ''It's a smooth course. It's always really good snow, and I'm good on snow - better than I am on slush and on ice. Val Gardena always has perfect winter conditions.''
It was the first podium sweep for Norway in super-G, with the team already having accomplished the feat in other disciplines in the days of Kjus and Andre Aamodt.
In the overall standings, Svindal moved within 23 points of leader Marcel Hirscher. Jansrud is third, 193 points behind the Austrian.
Hirscher did not race despite winning the previous super-G in Beaver Creek. American Ted Ligety also didn't enter, since the course doesn't favor technical specialists.
The traditional downhill is scheduled for the Saslong on Saturday - a race that Svindal has never won.
Svindal cited varying wind and sunlight in the longer downhill as factors that have prevented him from winning. The downhill starts higher up the mountain, where the course is more exposed to weather.
''That's one of the reasons why it's much harder to win the downhill,'' he said. ''You need to ski perfect and you can't have bad luck with the start number. So hopefully we'll have conditions like today tomorrow.''
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf