Maier Wins on Birds of Prey Again

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Beaver Creek, Co, Dec. 2, 2000--Austrian powerhouse Hermann Maier picked up his seventh career Beaver Creek win Saturday at theErnst & Young Birds of Prey World Cup downhill.

Maier won with a time of 1:40.66, .49 seconds faster than Norwegian Lasse Kjus (1:41.15). Stephan Eberharter, Maier's teammate, wasthird in 1:41.47.

Maier can basically claim part ownership of the difficult Birds of Prey course as he has won seven times on it since the hill's inception inDecember of '97. Eleven World Cup or World Championship races have been run on Birds of Prey, meaning Maier has won 64% of thetotal races and 78% of the races he was entered in (he did not enter two of the 11 races) . Last season, Maier won all three World Cupraces on the course - the downhill, the super G and the giant slalom.

"This was an almost perfect run," said Maier.

When asked jokingly if he would buy a house in the Vail/Beaver Creek area since he skis so well there, Maier replied "I've earned a lot ofprize money here. Maybe I can buy one."

Local Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO) was the top American finisher in 13th with a time of 1:42.14. He was coming off a fifth place downhillfinish last weekend at Lake Louise, a solid result after missing most of last season due to a shoulder injury. Fleischer was the topAmerican in Wednesday's first training run as he took eighth on Birds of Prey.

Fleischer had some problems just before the Screech Owl jump as he caught an edge and almost went off course.

"I got jacked so hard, I thought I was gonna miss that gate," said Fleischer. "I don't know what happened. I guess I got a little too farinside or maybe I started the turn a little late. Either way, that was what killed me. It just felt good to go out and try and hammer it today. Atleast I can learn from a run like this."

Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), who was the top American in 14th in Friday's training, finished 16th in 1:42.27.

"The bottom line is that my skiing wasn't where it had to be today," said Rahlves, who was the first American out of the start gate in 11th."I made too many mistakes and just tried to push it too much."

"Those guys are always strong, they're on their game all the time," Rahlves said about the Austrian skiers. "You gotta be right there withthem, you know."

Out of the 57th start spot, Brett Fischer (Winter Park, CO) posted a surprising 29th place finish with a time of 1:43.11.

The Ernst & Young Birds of Prey World Cup weekend wraps up Sunday with a super G race.