Svindal snaps up super-G gold

By Alan Baldwin

WHISTLER (Reuters) - Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal won a crash-strewn super-G on Friday to deny American ski showman Bode Miller a first Olympic gold medal.

The charging Miller, who was 11th out of the start hut on a bright and crisp morning, had to settle for the third silver of his career to become the first American to win four Alpine Olympic medals.

Unsung team mate Andrew Weibrecht, who had started third, was a surprise bronze medalist on another good day for the U.S. skiers who also have a gold and two silvers from two women's races.

The Norwegian started 19th on Friday, with Miller's time of 1:30.62 looking good for gold until then, and was faster by 0.28 to continue his country's domination of the event.

Norway, with now-retired Kjetil-Andre Aamodt in 2002 and 2006, have won the last three men's Olympic super-G races.

"I think I carried a lot of speed through Coach's Corner, I made a small mistake before that but managed to carry the speed and it worked out," Svindal told reporters.

MANCUSO INSPIRATION

Miller said he had felt "stale and stagnant" as he approached the finish on tired legs.

"I was tired, you really had to grind out that last turn," he said. "I knew what I had to do. I had to get time at the top where it was icy and bumpy."

Weibrecht, in his first Games and without a World Cup podium to his name, struggled to stay upright through the tricky early turns and thumped his chest triumphantly after crossing the finish line.

He said he had been inspired by women's team mate Julia Mancuso who has won two silver medals in Whistler after a largely-anonymous season.

"To come out of obscurity and throw down the runs she has been pretty encouraging and shown us we can do it," he said.

"I knew deep down I could do it, I've been knocking on the door all year."

The race had a lengthy delay when Sweden's Patrik Jaerbyn, the 29th starter and oldest man in the race, crashed heavily on the upper part of the slope.

The 40-year-old, competing in his fifth Olympics, lost his balance and flew through the air before landing on his back and then cartwheeling further and coming to rest limply on his side.

A team spokeswoman said he was conscious, suffering from mild concussion and bruises to his face.

Jaerbyn moved his hand as he was brought gently down the hill on a stretcher before being taken to hospital by helicopter.

Several others went out on the icy Dave Murray piste, including Canadian hopes Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Robbie Dixon. Italian Peter Fill smashed through the final gate and crossed the line without skis and on his chest.

(Additional reporting by Simon Evans and Patrick Vignal)

(Editing by Ed Osmond)