WCup leader Kostelic wins super-G for 5th victory

Associated Press
Croatia's Ivica Kostelic is airborne as he speeds on his way to clock the seventh fastest time during a training session for Saturday's alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill race,  in Kitzbuehel, Austria, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)
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Overall World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic won the super-G on Friday, his fifth World Cup victory in less than three weeks.

The Croatian slalom specialist, who had never won a speed race, finished his run on the challenging Streifalm course in 1 minute, 17.33 seconds for his 16th career World Cup win.

Georg Streitberger of Austria trailed by 0.23 seconds to move to the top of the discipline standings. Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was another 0.05 back in third. Bode Miller finished 10th.

"It was not a clean run, I went off the ideal line a couple of times but I handled it pretty well," said Kostelic, who has won five of the last eight races.

His previous best result in a speed discipline was second in a super-G in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in March 2010.

"It was important to have someone with a yellow helmet on the podium again," said Kostelic, whose helmet has the same color as the one worn by retired ski legend Hermann Maier.

Last year's winner, Didier Cuche of Switzerland, was fourth, while teammate and defending overall champion Carlo Janka was 2.04 behind after skiing off course and almost missing a gate.

Kostelic, who had bib No. 3, said he took advantage of his low start number.

"I was a bit lucky ... The course got rough and visibility did not get better during the race so it was good to have an early start," he said.

Kostelic leads the overall standings with 826 points, 255 ahead of second-place Svindal.

"I will start thinking about the overall title after the world championships," Kostelic said. "I will have to focus on every single race up to then."

Svindal earned his 10th podium finish of the season. The Norwegian said he lost the race in the upper section.

"I wasn't good from the start," he said. "I knew I had to do well because all the favorites were finishing well behind Ivica."

Three Austrian racers managed to avoid high-speed crashes, one day after teammate Hans Grugger crashed during Thursday's downhill training. He underwent brain surgery and is in an induced coma.

Klaus Kroell, Michael Walchhofer and Benjamin Raich all went out as they missed a gate at the same section of the hill, where a bumpy right curve threw them off course.

"We're still deeply shocked, it was not easy to race," former overall champion Raich said. "Our thoughts are with Hans, we hope he gets well soon and can race with us again some day."

Streitberger said the accident gave him more motivation to do well.

"I just tried to concentrate and stay focused," said the Austrian, who was third in last year's super-G race at the Streifalm. "This hill suits me, I like racing here."

The downhill will be held on Saturday.

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