Olympics: Viletta wins shock super-combined gold as favourites flop
- POSTED: 14 Feb 2014 22:50
Switzerland's Sandro Viletta won the men's Olympic super-combined on Friday topping a shock podium that included neither favourites Ted Ligety of the US nor Frenchman Alexis Pinturault.
ROSA KHUTOR: Switzerland's Sandro Viletta won the men's Olympic super-combined on Friday topping a shock podium that included neither favourites Ted Ligety of the US nor Frenchman Alexis Pinturault.
The 28-year-old, who had only one World Cup win and podium so far, won with a combined time of 2min 45.20sec, after one downhill and one slalom run.
Croatian veteran Ivica Kostelic was second at 0.34sec, bagging his fourth Olympic silver and third in the combined.
He preceded Italy's Christof Innerhofer at 0.47sec, who takes his second medal at these Winter Games after downhill silver on Sunday.
"This is amazing, it's perfect, it's more than a dream come true," Viletta said. "It's also a big shock. I didn't think I would come first. I'm so happy."
The Swiss was just 14th after the downhill and nowhere near the top favourites to win but a second-fastest run in the slalom secured him gold.
Kostelic, meanwhile, admitted the colour of his medal was a slight disappointment.
"I was hoping for the gold this time," said the Croatian.
But he added: "A big rock has fallen from my heart now... I had a pretty bad season. I never skied the podium in the World Cup so I am thankful for the medal."
Innerhofer almost skipped the race altogether.
"At the start gate, I nearly decided not to bother because the downhill went so well for a lot of the slalom specialists.
"I practised slalom only four days in two years," added the triple world medallist from 2011. "I can't believe it, this is crazy.
The result turned all predictions upside down as combined world champion Ligety and young gun Pinturault failed to even make the top 10 in the Valentine's Day race.
The two skiers had each won one super-combined race this World Cup season.
But Ligety, who needed a clean slalom after finishing 18th in the morning's downhill, made a costly mistake and ended up 12th.
France had, meanwhile, set its sights on Pinturault to win a first alpine skiing medal for the country in Sochi.
But the 22-year-old, who won the super-combined in Kitzbuehel last month, straddled a gate even as he was leading in the times, and went out.
"It was not easy for me today, I didn't have a really good downhill.
"Then the slalom was a little bit complicated, especially at the start, the middle section was okay but then finally I made a mistake and went out."
The tricky course, made even more challenging by warm temperatures, left several casualties in its wake, including Italy's Peter Fill, US skier Andrew Weibrecht, Austrian Max Franz and Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.
With lumpy snow and a tough course set by Ante Kostelic, Ivica's father, many straddled or caught their skis in a gate and fell.
"For sure the setting was tough, it was a Kostelic-set course, you don't have any rhythm, it's either turny or straight," said Pinturault.
"But when you ski you have to be ready for anything."
Defending Olympic champion Bode Miller, seeking to make up for a disappointing eighth place in the downhill, fought hard to come back from a 12th place after the morning run but had to make do with sixth place.
"They really make for funky results," four-time world champion Ligety said of the conditions after his race.
"You can see the results sheet so far. It's far from the World Cup result sheets. But we all have to ski and deal with it. There are no excuses."