CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — Swiss skier Marco Odermatt won a men’s World Cup super-G on Saturday in a triumphant return from his injury layoff, 10 days before the start of the world championships.
Odermatt skipped two races last week to rest a sore left knee but the defending overall champion was back to his best on the scenic Olympia delle Tofane course, beating his Norwegian rival Aleksander Aamodt Kilde by 0.35 seconds.
It was Odermatt‘s third super-G win of the season, while Kilde won the other two events.
“It’s maybe my most special win,” Odermatt said. “When I went back on snow two, three days ago, it felt like I had been away for a long time. The trust in my body, in my knee, was gone. Now I’m a bit speechless.”
Mattia Casse finished 0.49 behind in third for the Italian’s best career result in the discipline, followed by Austrian trio Stefan Babinsky, world super-G champion Vincent Kriechmayr, and Lukas Feuerstein.
Odermatt had not raced since hurting his left knee eight days ago in an acrobatic recovery from a near-crash at a downhill in Kitzbuehel.
PHOTOS: Swiss skier Odermatt wins super-G on return from injury
He sat out another downhill the following day and only went back on snow for a training session in Austria on Wednesday, but skipped a giant slalom in Schladming that evening.
Odermatt was behind Kilde’s time early in his run, but mastered the bottom section and held both hands to his helmet after finishing in apparent disbelief.
“The adrenaline at the start was worth gold,” said Odermatt, who used a bag of ice to cool his knee after his run.
The course in the Italian Dolomites with its marquee Tofane Schuss is a usual stop on the women’s circuit but was hosting a men’s World Cup race for the first time in more than three decades.
Three of the first four starters failed to finish, missing gates as they appeared to misjudge their speed in some turns.
One of them was Loic Meillard, Odermatt’s Swiss teammate who won Wednesday’s GS in Austria, who posted the fastest split times in the middle section before missing a gate near the end of his run.
Christof Innerhofer crashed and slid into the safety netting after hitting a gate with his face. The Italian got up and skied down with a bloody chin and nose but seemed not seriously injured.
Another super-G is scheduled for Sunday, the last men’s World Cup speed race before the Feb. 6-19 world championships in France.
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