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Svindal struggles in Olympic super-G, finishes 7th

February 16, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — By his count, Aksel Lund Svindal made not one, not two, not three, but four bad turns near the top of the super-G course on Sunday.

That’s probably more mistakes than the Norwegian standout has made all season in his signature event.

On this day, the defending Olympic super-G champion took a back seat to countryman Kjetil Jansrud, who won the race by 0.30 seconds over Andrew Weibrecht of the United States. Jan Hudec of Canada and Bode Miller of the U.S. shared the bronze.

And just where did Svindal wind up? Down the leaderboard a little bit at seventh.

Quite a surprise considering he’s captured six of the last nine World Cup super-G races he’s started. He’s dominated the discipline so much that his competitors have playfully dubbed him, “Mr. Super-G.”

Race by disappointing race, this is turning into an Olympics Svindal would just as soon forget. The chatter before the Sochi Games was not if Svindal would win a medal, but how many.

After all, he captured a medal of each color in Vancouver four years ago — including gold in the super-G — and looked stronger than ever heading into this Winter Games.

So far, Svindal’s 0-for-3 in his medal bid, finishing fourth in the downhill, eighth in the super-combined and on Sunday, in the super-G, he matched his worst finish in the event in nearly two years.

“That’s just the way it is,” Svindal said with a shrug.

Svindal’s look shortly after crossing the finish line succinctly summed up his feelings: He stared into the sky with his mouth agape.

Not seeing his name near the top of the leaderboard left many mouths’ open in disbelief.

Granted, the Norwegians are quite good at the super-G — winning their fourth straight Olympic title on Sunday — but Jansrud wasn’t exactly the one many thought would do so.

No, that would be Svindal.

“He’s had a little bit of a struggle,” Jansrud said. “I feel sorry for him. He had good chances. There was the idea of having two of us on the podium today. He’s probably not happy with his seventh place. But there’s also giant slalom to come, and he still has chances.”

No bitter feelings from Svindal, though. He was pleased for Jansrud.

“I’m not surprised,” said Svindal, who finished 0.62 seconds behind Jansrud’s winning time. “After my run I felt like, ‘You can be a lot faster than this.’ And he was, so I’m glad.”

For years, the presence of Svindal has helped push Jansrud, who’s found this softer snow along the course to his liking.

“Our team is really strong, very professional,” Jansrud said. “So it is not a coincidence everything has gone my way during this Olympics. So far, I can’t complain.

“It is true that this time things have gone better for me.”

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