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Svindal feeling pressure from Italian team in super-G at worlds

Photo: /ZumaPress.com

Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal won the super-G discipline title in 2013.

SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) -- Aksel Lund Svindal has been nearly unbeatable in super-G this season. But if anyone is capable of topping the Norwegian in the opening race at the world championships Wednesday, it could be a member of the standout Italian speed team.

Italy's Christof Innerhofer is the defending champion in the event and won the super-G here at last season's World Cup finals, while teammate Matteo Marsaglia has been the only man to beat Svindal in a super-G this season with his first career win in Beaver Creek, Colo.

Other Italian threats include Werner Hell, who finished third in the super-G at Val Gardena, Italy, in December; and Peter Fill, who took silver in super-G at the 2009 worlds in Val d'Isere, France.

American Ted Ligety has two fourths in the discipline this season. The Schladming course is steep and twisting, favoring technical specialists like Ligety.

"It always depends on the set," U.S. head coach Sasha Rearick said. "A super-G on a hill like this is fantastic because you can really vary a lot. It's the Norwegians choice. I think they are going to set more on the technical side because it fits their skiers."

Dominik Paris, the Italian who won two downhills this season - including the season highlight in Kitzbuehel - will skip the super-G to rest up for the downhill Saturday.

After his super-G win two years ago at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Innerhofer went on to add a silver and bronze in other events. After back problems slowed him last season, "Winnerhofer" showed he's back in form by winning two downhills this season.

"The pressure isn't something negative for me. Actually, it pleases me, it means I've done a good job to this point," Innerhofer said. "But here in Austria, I'm starting over from zero. The medals I won have been set aside and the past doesn't count anymore.

"I've had a great season and I'm in form. I've just got to go for it and not be afraid of anything. The Schladming course suits my type of skiing."

Still, it's Svindal's race to lose. He's won three of the four super-Gs this season and finished second to Marsaglia in the other. He's also the Olympic super-G champion.

Overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher isn't entered, preferring to focus on the giant slalom and slalom instead. French technical specialist Alexis Pinturault, who finished second at finals, is entered.

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