Bode Miller finished third in the World Cup Finals super-G, while overall leader Aksel Lund Svindal was a disappointing 16th and conceded he will fall from the top of the standings over the final two races.
The six-time Olympic medalist Miller appeared to agonizingly miss his first World Cup win since 2011 by .01 of a second until the 26th and final skier, France’s Alexis Pinturault, nabbed victory in 1 minute, 13.71 seconds in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on Thursday.
“It’s been a tough year,” said Miller, the Sochi Olympic super-G bronze medalist. “This kind of capped it off. I was happy with my attack today. I definitely skied like I wanted to win the race, which has been a challenge all year. Every time I ski hard, I crash or make such big mistakes. Unfortunately today was no different. … I just had 2.5 seconds worth of mistakes, probably, on that run.”
Pinturault, known for his giant slalom and slalom skills, won his first career World Cup super-G. Countryman Thomas Mermillod Blondin was second, .56 of a second behind, followed by Miller at .57.
Miller earned his fourth podium finish of the season after missing all of 2012-13 following knee surgery. He ranks seventh in the overall standings and is the only man in the top 11 without a race win this year.
“It’s been unbelievable frustrating to have the skiing be so fast that I feel like I could win almost every race, then come away with no wins at all,” Miller said. “Even though I’m old, I’m not like broken down, really. Mentally, I think I’m as tough as any of these kids.”
The Norwegian Svindal entered the race having already clinched the season title in the super-G, but he continued his pedestrian recent form by finishing 16th.
Svindal hasn’t made a race podium since Jan. 26 — including the Olympics — and matched his worst super-G result in three years.
By contrast, Svindal’s rival for the overall title, Austrian Marcel Hirscher, was 12th in just his sixth super-G start in the last four years. Hirscher cut Svindal’s overall lead down to 19 points with two races left.
Those two races are a giant slalom Saturday and a slalom Sunday. Hirscher is a better giant slalom skier than Svindal and the reigning world champion and World Cup champion in slalom. Svindal said he won’t race the slalom and conceded the overall title to Hirscher after the super-G.
“It’s not the way I wanted to end it,” Svindal said. “It puts me out of the chase for the overall title, what can you do.
“I wasn’t good enough [Thursday].”
Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety took fifth and fell from third to fourth in the overall standings, behind Pinturault by 50 points.
“I’m happy with being fifth place, that’s for sure,” Ligety said. “Definitely one of my better super-G results. I definitely feel like there’s a lot more speed on the hill that I left up there, but to get a top five is still a good day.”
Ligety now moves onto the giant slalom Saturday, where he needs Hirscher to finish off the podium to have any chance of repeating as the season champion in that discipline.
“I feel like I have a good chance of getting in there and hopefully winning,” Ligety said. “I don’t know how good of a chance I have of Marcel not getting on the podium. It’s going to be tough.”
1. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 1:13.71
2. Thomas Mermillod Blondin (FRA) 1:14.27
3. Bode Miller (USA) 1:14.28
4. Matthias Mayer (AUT) 1:14.66
5. Ted Ligety (USA) 1:14.80
6. Christof Innerhofer (ITA) 1:14.85
7. Carlo Janka (SUI) 1:14.86
8. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) 1:14.88
9. Otmar Striedinger (AUT) 1:14.95
9. Travis Ganong (USA) 1:14.95
Final super-G standings
1. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) — 346
2. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) — 259
3. Patrick Kueng (SUI) — 255
5. Bode Miller (USA) — 220