Fenninger wins Olympic super-G; Hoefl-Riesch 2nd
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Anna Fenninger became the third straight Austrian woman to win the Olympic super-G, finding a smooth way through a tricky and uneven course Saturday.
The 24-year-old Fenninger finished in 1 minute, 25.52 seconds, edging Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany by 0.55 seconds. Nicole Hosp of Austria was third.
Starting 17th and wearing a cheetah-themed print on her helmet, Fenninger flew along the course, hardly bothered by a track that grew more and more bumpy. She made sure the super-G title remained with Austria after Andrea Fischbacher took gold in 2010 and Michaela Dorfmeister did so at the 2006 Turin Games.
Skiers from Austria have dominated this Olympic event since the super-G began at the 1988 Calgary Games. The country has now won eight of a possible 24 medals.
"I don't know why we can win so much medals," Fenninger said of the discipline. "I think we just like it.
"For me, the adrenaline is very high in super-G. That's what I like, when I go fast."
The combination of soft snow and a tight course design by Florian Winkler of Austria had early skiers struggling to make it down. Of the opening eight racers, seven didn't finish.
"The setting is very hard," said Italian racer Daniela Merighetti, who carried too much speed around a gate and went off the course.
Hoefl-Riesch and Hosp added to their medal totals at the Sochi Olympics. They went 1-2 in the super-combined earlier this week.
For Hoefl-Riesch, there was an extra obstacle to deal with Saturday in her run — a course worker who was fixing a gate. She said it really didn't affect her skiing, because she saw that the worker was moving away from where she was skiing and not in her line.
"I was not really influenced by that," said Hoefl-Riesch, who has four career Olympic medals. "It was not a problem for me. Of course, this shouldn't happen, because it's dangerous. For today, for me, it was no problem."
Pre-race favorites Lara Gut of Switzerland and Tina Maze of Slovenia were fourth and fifth. Julia Mancuso of the United States was eighth.
"When you are fourth I think it is the worst place you can be at the Olympics," Gut said.
Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein didn't compete after hurting her right leg in a crash during downhill training last weekend. She inspected the course on Saturday but was in too much pain to race.
Mancuso said she became hesitant after watching so many others before her struggle on the course.
"It's magic on race day and you can't care what everyone else is doing," Mancuso said. "I'm happy to make it to the finish."
The temperature at the start was around 45 degrees (7 degrees Celsius).
Fischbacher won super-G gold four years ago in Vancouver, while Maze captured silver and Lindsey Vonn finished with the bronze. Vonn is out of the Sochi Games after having surgery on her knee.