Maier Skis to Fourth Straight Win

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Beaver Creek, CO, Nov. 29 (AP by John Mossman)--No rocks. Just a rocket.

Austrian strongman Hermann Maier continued his early-season domination of the men's World Cup ski circuit, capturing a super-G by a substantial margin on Sunday for his fourth straight victory.

Maier, 26, attacked the steep, treacherous Birds of Prey course for a winning margin of .94 seconds over teammate Stephan Eberharter in the inaugural super-G of the season.

Maier, known as the Herminator, now has won four of the five men's races this season; he did not compete in a slalom here on Tuesday. The record for consecutive World Cup wins is 10 by Ingemar Stenmark (1977-78).

Maier tied Switzerland's Pirmin Zurbriggen for the most career super-G victories (10) among male skiers.

As he did in overwhelming the field in Saturday's downhill, Maier came across more than a second ahead of his competition, leaving many to shake their heads in awe. The eighth racer on the course, he skied smoothly but powerfully, brushing several gates, to post a time of 1 minute, 16.51 seconds that was 1.13 seconds quicker than the previous seven racers.

Eberharter, skiing ninth, then fashioned a solid run of 1:17.45 that might have won on another day. He managed, however, only to slightly reduce Maier's winning margin.

Unlike the downhill, when Maier damaged his left ski after hitting a rock, Sunday's run was without mishap.

``I had new skis,'' he said. ``They aren't my fastest. I will save the fastest skis for a slope with more flats. I didn't need them here with this course so steep.

``I could have gone faster. I was a little too fast at one gate on the bottom section, and I didn't risk fully after that.''

Maier, making a strong bid to recapture the World Cup overall title he claimed two years ago but relinquished to Norway's Lasse Kjus last season, now has won six races on this 3-year-old course, including three in the past five days. Besides the downhill, he won a giant slalom on Wednesday.

``I'm a little bit surprised about that,'' he said of his trio of victories here. ``Every race was great, especially downhill and super-G. There was a lot of time between me and second place, and that's great.''

Asked to account for his torrid start, Maier said, ``I guess I have more experience now, so I can ski every section very fast. I am fast in the flats and long gliding points. That's better than three years ago, when I was very fast in the technical sections.

``And I don't feel any pain in my back, so I can ski how I want.''

Eberharter said he was ``happy with second place, but it was not a good run for me. Too many mistakes. I skied too aggressive at the top and missed two jumps. You can't do that against Hermann Maier. He had perfect races yesterday and today.''

Kjus wound up third in 1:17.64.

``I had been struggling,'' Kjus said, ``but I made some small changes in my boots, and things are starting to work better. This race gives me the confidence to know I can ski faster.

``Hermann will be very tough to beat in the World Cup if he keeps winning all the time. I hope I can raise my performance a little bit so I can give him a fight.''

Maier, who won four of the six super-G races last season to easily win the discipline title, got started toward another super-G title with Sunday's victory and also led his powerful Austrian team to five of the top six places.

Austrians Andreas Schifferer, Christian Mayer and Hans Knauss were fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, in 1:17.70, 1:17.76 and 1:17.82.

Sweden's Fredrik Nyberg was seventh in 1:17.83, followed by Austria's Werner Franz in 1:17.89, Switzerland's Paul Accola in 1:17.97 and Austria's Josef Strobl in 1:18.05.

Daron Rahlves of Truckee, Calif., rebounding from a crash in the downhill, was the top American, finishing 14th in 1:18.35. Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., was 23rd in 1:19.27, and Chad Fleischer of Vail was 27th in 1:19.51.

Canada's Ed Podivinsky was 30th in 1:19.80.

Copyright (c) 1999 The Associated Press