One year ago, Hannes Reichelt went from legendary victor to despair in two days.
He captured the most famous race in skiing — the Hahnenkamm downhill in his home nation in Kitzbuehel, Austria, on Jan. 25, 2014 — and, 48 hours later, announced he needed season-ending back surgery.
“My Olympic dream is in shatters,” Reichelt said then.
Reichelt, 34, won the World Championships super-G in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Thursday, his first career global championship gold medal. He’s the oldest skier to win an individual World Championships race.
“I needed some time to realize that I couldn’t go to the Olympics,” Reichelt, who also won a World Cup super-G in Beaver Creek on Dec. 6, said in a post-race press conference. “I can be happy that I’m sitting here, being healthy.”
Canadian Dustin Cook stunned for silver, .11 behind, after never finishing better than 12th in a World Cup race. France’s Adrien Theaux earned bronze (full results here).
Six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller spectacularly crashed and did not finish in his first race in 11 months, following November knee surgery (WATCH CRASH HERE).
Defending champion Ted Ligety was the top American finisher in ninth.
Norway’s favorites, Kjetil Jansrud and Aksel Lund Svindal, finished fourth and sixth, respectively. Jansrud, the Olympic super-G champion, suffered a shoulder injury crashing into a gate.
The World Championships continue with the women’s downhill Friday, with Lindsey Vonn as the favorite after she won super-G bronze on Tuesday.
The men’s downhill is Saturday. Check back for updates on Miller’s status for that event.
Gold: Hannes Reichelt (AUT) — 1:15.68
Silver: Dustin Cook (CAN) — 1:15.79
Bronze: Adrien Theaux (FRA) — 1:15.92
9. Ted Ligety (USA) — 1:16.38
20. Andrew Weibrecht (USA) — 1:17.12
20. Steven Nyman (USA) — 1:17.12
DNF. Travis Ganong (USA)
DNF. Bode Miller (USA)