GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — Christof Innerhofer of Italy mastered a bumpy course to win the super-G at the world championships for his first major title, while Bode Miller lost a pole and finished 12th.
Hannes Reichelt of Austria was second and overall World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic of Croatia was third.
Defending champion Didier Cuche of Switzerland missed the podium and finished fourth, while Olympic champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway failed to finish.
Miller, the Olympic silver medalist, clipped a gate with his arm and lost a pole. He maintained a fast pace and was nearly a full second ahead of the 10 previous racers. But he lost his balance coming out of a bend at the bottom, slowed down and stood up as he crossed the finish line.
“I tried to push on the top, but I hooked my arm pretty hard,” said Miller, who attended Carrabassett Valley Academy. “I made the recovery but then I lost my balance. I skied like I wanted on the top. But it’s a matter of finishing without making mistakes.”
His run inspired Innerhofer.
“I saw Bode Miller and I told myself that’s how I had to race, too,” he said. “Simply give your best, then you can’t reproach yourself at the finish.”
Innerhofer has only one World Cup victory to date — a downhill in Bormio in Italy in December 2008 — but he beat Reichelt by a massive 0.60 seconds, finishing in 1 minute, 38.31 seconds. Reichelt, who won the super-G race on Saturday, clocked 1:38.91. Kostelic finished in 1:39.03.
“These races come only once every two years, so I knew I had to go all out today,” Innerhofer said. “You can’t make any sort of calculations. The course is incredible and exhausting, but I managed to keep things under control.”
Miller said skiing without the pole didn’t seem to make much of a difference. He likely would have broken into the top 10 if he had not crossed the line in a leisurely fashion.
“It was difficult. It was challenging. But that’s how it should be. It’s the world championships. It’s a pretty tame hill. It’s really basic,” Miller said. “But today it was bumpy enough and fast enough to make it challenging. You see a lot of guys having problems and if you see Innerhofer skiing, he really deserves to win here. He was one of the few guys really pushing and really taking some risk.”
Ted Ligety of the United States, who went off the course, said running early was more difficult.
“A couple of turns you get some sun,” Ligety said. “Just in general it’s in the shade all the way down and that makes it tough when it’s that bumpy.”
Although his World Cup career includes only three other third-place finishes, Innerhofer had come close to winning medals at the last two major events. At 26, Innerhofer has been seen as one of the leaders in a fairly young Italian speed team, although he has been slowed by injuries.
He missed the podium at the world championships two years ago by finishing 0.05 seconds behind bronze medalist Svindal. And he was sixth at the Vancouver Olympics last year, only 0.08 seconds away from the bronze.
Innerhofer is one of the most outgoing members of the team, hailing from the German-speaking Alto Adige region. He jumped onto the top of the podium during the victory celebration.
“What I’m most pleased about is that I was able to attack from top to bottom, which is something I haven’t been able to do very often this season. When I crossed the line and looked at the scoreboard I didn’t believe it at first. I had to look again to be sure,” he said.
“This is the dream for any athlete, and for me to get my first super-G win at the worlds is unbelievable. I can’t believe it. Already for a few days I’ve been telling myself, ‘Christof, you’ve got to risk everything in this race, because you don’t have anything to lose. You’ve got to risk, risk, risk, otherwise you’re going to be angry with yourself.’”
Reichelt said he was surprised with his second-place finish.
“Normally, these are not my conditions,” Reichelt said. “I thought I’d skied a lousy race. The uneven, icy piste was extremely difficult, at some points it was really twilight. I got tired quickly and I could hardly stay upright at the end.”
Erik Guay of Canada, who won the super-G race and the World Cup title in the event on the same slope last year, also failed to finish.