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Crawford beats Kilde for surprise super-G gold at World Ski Championships

origin 1Canadian James Crawford reacts after competing in the men’s Super-G event of the 2023 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Barbara Gindl/APA/dpa

Canada’s James Crawford is yet to win a World Cup race, but he stunned the favorites on Thursday by claiming a surprise super-G world title.

Crawford denied Norwegian star Aleksander Aamodt Kilde his first major championship gold on the 1,857m L’Eclipse course by the slimmest possible margin of a hundredth of a second.

Monday’s alpine combined winner Alexis Pinturault earned his second medal of his home World Championships in France by taking bronze, just like he did two years ago.

This left no place on the podium for pre-race favourite, Swiss Marco Odermatt, who had to settle for fourth place, 0.37 off the pace.

World Cup leader Odermatt had won four of the season’s six super-g races and finished on the podium in the other two won by Kilde, making the two top contenders.

Crawford is a speed specialist with three World Cup podiums in downhill and super-G, as well as an Olympic bronze in last year’s alpine combined, but he had never won a race before.

His best result of the season in the discipline was sixth and he had crashed in two of the last three races.

“I haven’t managed to win the World Cup yet, but I’ve shown speed. But to be on the top step and beat them seems unreal,” Crawford told German broadcasters ZDF.

Odermatt admitted to “big disappointment when you want gold. My run wasn’t bad but three were faster.”

Kilde meanwhile wasn’t too dejected after missing so close to a first big title, but quite happy with a first medal at the worlds, the day after his partner Mikaela Shffrin also took silver in super-g.

“I’m very happy, I have to be satisfied. It takes some of the pressure off for Sunday,” he said, looking ahead to the downhill where he is the favourite.

Odermatt was the first out of the favourites, but his then lead time was first bettered by later skier Pinturault, whose joy did not last long as Kilde quickly followed and took the lead.

However, it was Crawford, skiing just after Kilde, who had the last laugh as he overcame a slow start with a strong finish to take an improbable gold beating Kilde to become the second super-g winner for Canada, following his successful by Eric Guay in 2017.

“I just kept a mindset and knew I needed a lot of confidence and effort in the bottom section. I was able to beat one of the biggest skiers,” Crawford said.

Defending champion Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria had to settle for 12th place and 2019 Italian winner Dominik Paris crashed.

Austrian Marco Schwarz made a big mistake just before the finish, which possibly cost him a medal and finished sixth, after a similar crash in Monday’s combined which caused him to settle for silver instead of gold.

origin 1Canadian James Crawford competes in the men’s Super-G event of the 2023 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Expa/Johann Groder/APA/dpa
origin 1Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde competes in the men’s Super-G event of the 2023 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Barbara Gindl/APA/dpa