KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — The super-G was running so extreme that seven of the opening eight racers slid, tumbled, careened, and glided off the course, unable to finish.
In all, 18 of 49 racers failed to make it across the finish line.
Leave it to the Austrians to solve a tricky course designed by one of their coaches. This nation, no matter how tough the track, just seems to shine in this discipline.
Anna Fenninger became the third Austrian in a row to win the women’s super-G, finding a smooth way through the uneven course Saturday. She finished in 1 minute, 25.52 seconds, edging Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany by 0.55 seconds. Nicole Hosp of Austria was third.
With that, the Austrians are off to a soaring start at the Sochi Games, leading the Alpine standings with four medals. That already matches the total this skiing-proud nation had the entire time in Vancouver four years ago.
Pressure’s now off, right?
‘‘We have a lot of pressure — that is our sport,’’ said Austrian coach Florian Winkler, who designed the challenging course that skiers only had a brief time to inspect.
Starting 17th and wearing a cheetah-themed print on her helmet, Fenninger flew along the course, hardly bothered by the bumps. She made sure the super-G title remained with Austria after Andrea Fischbacher took gold in 2010 and Michaela Dorfmeister did so at the 2006 Turin Games.
Racers from Austria have dominated this Olympic event since the super-G began at the 1988 Calgary Games. The country has now won eight of a possible 24 medals.
The rate at which skiers were going off course led Kjetil Jansrud of Norway to post on Twitter: ‘‘I am speechless for the moment. Looks like it’s difficult, but this is crazy. #DNFbonanza.’’
Carolina Ruiz Castillo of Spain was the first racer out of the start gate — and crashed seven seconds into her run.
Hoefl-Riesch and Hosp certainly had no trouble navigating the hill and added to their medal collections in Sochi. They went 1-2 in the super-combined this week.
Prerace favorites Lara Gut of Switzerland and Tina Maze of Slovenia were fourth and fifth. Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein didn’t compete after hurting her right leg in downhill training last weekend.
Julia Mancuso of the United States said she became hesitant after watching so many others before her struggle on the course. She wound up eighth.