Saturday, February 16, 2002
Aamodt wins second gold in four days
SNOWBASIN, Utah -- He's called the Baby Shark, a rather
strange nickname for a shy, humble guy who once studied ballet. Put
him on skis, though, and it's obvious the moniker is a perfect fit.
The man they call 'Baby Shark' now has seven Olympic alpine medals, the most won by anyone in history.
Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway captured his second gold medal in
four days, beating the favored Austrians to win the super giant
slalom Saturday. He now has seven Olympic medals, a total unmatched
in Alpine skiing history.
Aamodt, whose first name rhymes with Shaquille (as in O'Neal),
maintained his balance on a treacherous hairpin turn that wiped out
many of the favorites and ruined the medal hopes of American Daron
Aamodt has had quite a week at the Salt Lake City Games.
He was fourth in the downhill last Sunday, missing a medal by
0.37 seconds. He won the combined event on Wednesday, and won his
first Super G race in six years on Saturday.
"The combination gold was the important one for me, I was the
favorite. When I managed to win that, it gave me a lot of
confidence," Aamodt said. "Today was just a bonus."
Aamodt, 30, who also won the Olympic Super G in 1992 and was a
bronze medalist in 1994, won by a tenth of a second over Stephan
Eberharter of Austria. Another Austrian, Andreas Schifferer, took
the bronze medal.
Eberharter, who got bronze in the downhill, has dominated the
speed races on the World Cup circuit this season in the absence of
injured teammate Hermann Maier, the 1998 Olympic champion in Super
He had been favored for gold in both the downhill and Super G at
the Salt Lake City Games. In a rare display of emotion, Eberharter
threw his helmet and skis to the ground in the finish area
Eberharter partly blamed his defeat on the Austrian coaches,
saying they failed to warn him about the tricky turns near the
"There was a lack of communication. I got every information
possible at the start except what would happen if I entered the
final steep slope a little too tight or a little too fast," he
said. "I was going too fast, so I couldn't get through those two
gates cleanly. I definitely lost gold there."
Rahlves, the reigning Super G world champion, had several
bobbles and went wide around several gates -- leaving a plume of
snow in his wake -- and finished eighth.
"Obviously, a big disappointment," said Rahlves. "This is the
one I wanted to win, but I just made too many mistakes."
Rahlves skied tentatively at the section leading onto Rendezvous
Face -- the spot at which the racers first came into the view of
fans at the bottom of the course -- and several other top skiers
The racers barreled off Buffalo Jump, the steepest section of
the course, when they quickly had to make a blind left turn and
then a sharp right onto Rendezvous Face.
Eberharter slipped trying to make that right turn, losing
valuable moments but managing to stay on course. Didier Cuche of
Switzerland was not as fortunate, slipping at that spot and missing
"It's definitely the trickiest and toughest Super G course I've
ever skied on in my life because of the terrain and the way they
set the course," Rahlves said.
Aamodt, who has an unprecedented 17 medals in the Olympics and
world championships, finished the icy course in 1 minute, 21.58
seconds. Eberharter's time was 1:21.68 and Schifferer's was 1:21.83
-- just 0.09 seconds faster than downhill champion Fritz Strobl, yet
"To win a Super G after 10 years in the Olympics is just a
dream come true," Aamodt said. "I've worked hard all my life. I
love skiing. I love competition. That's the secret of my success."
Rahlves, who stunned Austrian crowds last year by capturing the
world championship there, finished in 1:22.48. He finished 16th in
last weekend's downhill.
Thomas Vonn of the United States came from the 33rd starting
position to finish ninth in 1:23.22.
The Super G was the last Olympic men's race at Snowbasin. After
the women's Super G on Sunday, Alpine competition shifts to Park
City for the women's slalom Wednesday.