No Norwegian super-G gold after all

Norway’s World Championship losing streak continues in surprise Canadian victory

Photo: Statsministerens kontor / Flickr
Kjetil Jansrud is congratulated by Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, after his super-G gold medal in the 2014 Olympics. He had to settle for silver at this year’s world championships.

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

When it comes to the super-G, or super giant slalom, Norway’s alpine skiers have dominated in recent years. At least in the Olympics, that is. Norwegians have taken the gold in five of the last seven Olympic Games—most recently Aksel Lund Svindal in 2010 and Kjetil Jansrud in 2014.

They haven’t been so lucky in the World Championships, however. The last time a Norwegian became the world champion in super-G was when Lasse Kjus shared the title with Austrian Hermann Maier in 1999; Norway then went on to lose eight consecutive titles.

Heading into the 2017 Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, it looked like Norway might just be able to come back from their losing streak. While Svindal is out for the season due to a knee injury, both Jansrud and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde were favored to take home medals on February 8.

Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr started off the competition strong and continued to hold the lead—until Jansrud, anyway. The Norwegian, who had been fighting an illness all week and woke up that morning with a fever, managed to beat the Austrian by 0.43 to take the lead with bib nine.

When Kilde began from bib 13, he nearly beat his fellow Norwegian, but a few mistakes toward the end cost him just enough time to trail Jansrud by a mere 0.09.

At this point all of the top competitors had finished, and Jansrud and Kilde thought they had secured the gold and silver, respectively.

They didn’t have long to celebrate, though. Next up was Canadian Erik Guay who, in the race of his lifetime, managed to improve on Jansrud’s time from the start and only increased his lead as he approached the finish line. He ended up finishing in 1:25.38, beating Jansrud by 0.45 seconds and winning his first super-G race since 2010. This victory came just two weeks after a serious crash in Garmisch, Germany. At the age of 35, he is the oldest world champion.

“Before I saw the green light, I crossed the line and I saw the crowd react,” Guay said. “I saw everybody stand up and cheer, so I knew that something good just happened. When I sort of turned sideways and saw the green light by 45-hundredths in front of Jans­rud, it was incredible ’cause he’s such an incredible skier and dominating super-G, so I was quite emotional actually. I’m glad I had goggles on so nobody could see my eyes.”

While Jansrud certainly wanted to take the gold and break his country’s losing streak, he was satisfied with the silver and especially impressed by Guay’s performance.

“I always want to aim for the gold, but I think Erik today showed us how it’s supposed to be done, and it’s very impressive,” Jansrud said. “I’m not feeling any disappointment over that. I’m very happy with the silver. Been struggling a little bit with the preparation coming into the World Champs with a little sickness and you know, for me, it’s a perfect day and I’m looking forward for downhill.”

While the gold was out of the question now, it still looked like the Norwegians would take the silver and bronze.

Canada managed to come back with another surprise performance, however. On his 33rd birthday, Manuel Osborne-Paradis came in just 0.51 seconds behind his fellow Canadian, edging Kilde off the podium by only three hundredths of a second. The Canadians therefore took an unprecedented first and third in the country’s first multiple podium finish since 1982.

“I knew that I had made a couple mistakes but that it had been pretty fast. That’s why I was so happy when I crossed the finish line. It is always fun to share with a Norwegian, but it didn’t end up that way today,” said a disappointed Kilde to TV 2. “It was a little tough for a while, and it still is.”

The Norwegians might not have met their goal of the gold this time around, but there’s always 2019. Tenth time’s the charm, right?

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 24, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.