As the Germans, Austrians and Swiss were fighting it out over who would take the World Cup super-G title Saturday, a young Swedish racer, Lars-Boerje Eriksson, carved a perfect run down the icy Aspen course for a win by one-third of a second over veteran Markus Wasmeier of West Germany. Helmut Mayer of Austria was third.
Super-G is a hybrid event combining the speed of downhill with some highly technical turning.Erickson, from Are, a protege of Ingemar Stenmark, said he was not feeling well on race day and almost decided to skip the super-G. But against the likes of Pirmin Zurbriggen, Marc Girardelli and Alberto Tomba, the slight blond who won the Olympic bronze medal in super-G at Calgary, made a slashing, error-free run down what several racers called the most difficult course in the world.
Starting in eighth position, Eriksson crossed the finish as his time flashed on the screen and stood looking in disbelief, then threw his fists into the air. He then had to wait at the finishers' corral as the rest of the top guns took their shot at his time of 1 minute 17.98 seconds.
The last of the first seed (15) was Italy's Tomba, who started well, but got off line on the difficult Aztec face. Finally convinced that no one would catch him, Eriksson shook his head again in disbelief.
"I am very surprised. Very surprised," he said. "After four days of downhill training, my legs felt very tired, and I did not feel good today. But maybe because I wasn't pressing too hard, I skied better.
"This was one of the toughest super-G courses I ever skied. It was fast and steep and very technical. I knew I had not made many mistakes, but I never thought I would win."
For Sweden, this was the first gold medal ever in a long-distance race. Eriksson said that, like many of his teammates, it was Stenmark, the all-time champion of technical racing with 85 World Cup wins, who turned him on to racing.
"They would always transmit the races around the world, and whenever Ingemar skied, the whole country of of Sweden stood still. Of course he has been an inspiration to me."
For the United States, it was a much better day than Friday's downhill. Jeff Olson, the downhiller from Bozeman, Mont., who started way back in the pack at No. 51, moved up to a 22nd-place finish.
Tommy Moe, the 19-year-old from Palmer, Alaska, started 46th and placed 29th, a top super-G finish for both racers.
"I got ticked at myself after the downhill," Olson said. "So I decided to just punch it today and take some risks. In the downhill, I was so worried about my line that I held back. But today, even though the course was cut up by the time I went, I just decided to ski the course rather than let it ski me."
Moe, who burst on the scene as a downhiller at age 16, said his only goal for this season was to make some top 30 finishes. At the Vail downhill in the World Championships two weeks ago, Moe finished 12th.
"I'm having a good time right now," he said. "I had some problems today with the Airplane (turn), and at the bottom, I got a little out of control. I let my skis run."
Moe is one of the young skiers on whom the U.S. coaches are basing their hopes for the future.