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Svindal conquers Kitzbuehel demons with super-G win

© AFP / by Luke PHILLIPS | Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway competes during the Super-G of the FIS Alpine World Cup in Kitzbuehel, Austria

KITZBÜHEL (AUSTRIA) (AFP) - 

Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal made a successful return to the piste where he suffered a season-ending injury two years ago with a convincing victory in the men's World Cup super-G on Friday.

Svindal's win was the 35th of his career and third this season, perfect timing as racers fine-tune preparations for next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

"Different kind of race in Kitzbuehel. Good result :) :)," Svindal posted on Instagram along with a photo of himself cheering in the winner's enclosure.

The 35-year-old, who has twice before won the super-G here, timed 1min 30.72sec down a Streif course shortened to preserve softening snow on the bottom third, teammate Kjetil Jansrud finishing second at 0.50sec.

"God damnit! #attackingvikings on fire," was Jansrud's reaction along with a smiley face.

Austrian Matthias Mayer, the reigning Olympic downhill champion and super-G winner in the Tyrolean resort last year, pipped his compatriot Hannes Reichelt, the 2014 Hahnenkamm downhill champion, by one-hundredth of a second to round out the podium, 0.56sec adrift of Svindal.

Svindal's run of form bodes well for the self-styled "Attacking Viking", who won three Olympic medals (one of each colour) at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and is an eight-time world championship medallist, five of them gold.

He will be hoping that lightning does not strike twice, however.

In 2016, a day after winning the super-G in Kitzbuehel, the towering Norwegian suffered a nasty knee injury in a horror fall in the downhill that ruled him out of the rest of the season.

- Biggest after Olympics -

All eyes will be trained on the most testing descent on the World Cup circuit when competition continues Saturday.

A slalom on Sunday brings down the curtain on the Kitzbuehel weekend.

"The downhill tomorrow will be very exciting, but it couldn't have started better than winning the super-G," admitted Svindal.

"Everyone was a little bit, well maybe not nervous, but we didn't know what to expect today," he said of the rejigged course, which involved a start further up the Hahnenkamm mountain by the famed Mausefalle.

"No one has ever skied a super-G in this part of Kitzbuehel. It was something new for everyone and the top part was quite challenging."

Svindal acknowledged that he had one eye firmly fixed on the February 9-25 Olympics in South Korea, but insisted it was a question of taking it one race at a time.

"The Olympics are the biggest," he said. "Maybe it's not the best thing to say when you're sitting in Kitzbuehel!

"This is the biggest you can find in alpine skiing, but the Olympics are all winter sports together and that's what makes it special.

"But after the Olympics, (Kitzbuehel) is the biggest race.

"This sport is not one where you can say 'I want to win this but I don't care about this' because there are too many things that have to go right and things that can go wrong.

"For all skiers, you want to approach every race wanting to win."

by Luke PHILLIPS

© 2018 AFP