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Olympics: Fenninger claims gold in drama-filled super-G

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Austrian Anna Fenninger claimed Olympic gold in a drama-packed women's super-G on Saturday that saw 12 of the top 30 racers fail to finish the demanding course

After only three of the starting 10 racers had made it down the 2.2km-long Rosa Khutor course, Fenninger, starting with bib number 18, clocked 1min 25.52sec for victory.

Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch won silver at 0.55sec to go with the gold she won in Monday's super-combined, while combined silver medallist Nicole Hosp of Austria took bronze, a further 0.11sec adrift.

Hoefl-Riesch was left kicking herself after taking the lead on the third split and looking set for another gold.

But she went wide as she flew over the final bump and could not refind her rhythm in time through the swinging gates to the finish area.

In brilliant sunshine and balmy temperatures, a capacity 7,500-strong crowd in Rosa Khutor were left gasping and coaches with heads in hands as their charges failed to master the course set by Austrian coach Florian Winkler.

After American Leanne Smith registered the first time, starting second, the next six racers span out of control in a rarely seen alpine skiing spectacle.

Swiss Dominique Gisin, who shared gold with Slovenia's Tina Maze in Monday's downhill, was one of the skiers to crash out, failing to safely negotiate a sharp left of the flying final lip with the line in sight.

Maze finished fifth (+0.76sec), just behind downhill bronze medallist Lara Gut of Switzerland in fourth. Injured in-form Liechtensteiner Tina Weirather, who trains alongside Gut with the Swiss team, was a late withdrawal.

The super-G, or "super giant slalom", combines elements of the downhill and the giant slalom, and is decided over one race.

Crucially, unlike the downhill, skiers do not have the chance of a pre-race training run for super-G, but only a one-hour visual inspection on the morning of the race.

"I think we all underestimated the track after inspection and thought there would be fewer problems. It's more difficult with the soft snow," said Swiss racer Fabienne Suter, who finished seventh at 1.37sec.

"I saw the first and second starters on the TV. I had a strange feeling before going down the track."

Italian Daniela Merighetti failed to finish the course and agreed with Suter, saying: "It's hard to stay on the track. It's so steep and very curvy -- it's not an easy course.

"Maybe the Austrians have an advantage because the setter is their coach. I am not saying that it is going to be easy for them, but easier.

"I am disappointed because these are the Olympics and all it matters is to finish in the top three."

lp/jw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140215/olympics-fenninger-claims-gold-drama-filled-super-g