SOCHI, Russia -- Anna Fenninger won the gold medal in the Sochi Olympics women’s super-G Saturday in a race in which many of the early skiers struggled to get down the tricky course.
The 24-year-old Austrian finished in 1 minute 25.52 seconds to beat Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany by 0.55 seconds. Nicole Hosp of Austria was third.
The Austrians maintained their dominance in this Olympic event. Fenninger and Hosp made it eight of a possible 24 medals for the nation since the super-G began at the 1988 Calgary Games.
The combination of soft snow and a tight course designed by Florian Winkler of Austria had early skiers struggling to make it down. Of the opening eight racers, seven didn’t finish.
“The setting is very hard,” said Italian racer Daniela Merighetti, who carried too much speed around a gate and went off the course.
Hoefl-Riesch and Hosp added to their medal totals at the Sochi Olympics. They went 1-2 in the super combined earlier this week.
Favorites Lara Gut of Switzerland and Tina Maze of Slovenia were fourth and fifth. Julia Mancuso of the U.S. was eighth while teammates Stacey Cook and Laurenne Ross failed to finish. American Leanne Smith was the first to complete the course in 1:28.38.
Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein didn’t compete after hurting her right leg in a crash during downhill training last weekend. She inspected the course but was in too much pain to race.
Mancuso said she became hesitant after watching others struggle on the course.
“It’s magic on race day and you can’t care what everyone else is doing,” Mancuso said. “I’m happy to make it to the finish.”
The temperature at the start was around 45 degrees, making for a softer course that had quite a few grooves in it the later the race went along.
Andrea Fischbacher of Austria won super-G gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games, while Maze captured silver and Lindsey Vonn finished with the bronze. Vonn is out of the Sochi Games after having surgery on her knee.