March 10, 2005
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP by Erica Bulman)--Renate Goetschl of Austria won the final race of the season to clinch the women's World Cup downhill title Thursday, claiming the trophy for the fourth time in her career.
Goetschl entered the race holding a 32-point lead over Germany's Hilde Gerg, her closest challenger.
The veteran held Gerg at bay, charging down the Silvano Beltrametti course in 1 minute, 26.89 seconds. France's Ingrid Jacquemod was second in 1:27:16, while Gerg finished third in 1:27.56.
Goetschl won the title with 567 points. Gerg was second with 495.
It was only Goetschl's second downhill win of the season but her fifth podium finish in eight races. The win was also her 37th career victory overall, moving her into third place on the all-time World Cup list behind Annemarie Moser-Proell (62) and Vreni Schneider (55). She bettered German Katja Seizinger's tally of 36.
Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria and American Lindsey Kildow also had outside chances at the downhill title but were unable to deliver. Kildow crashed out of the race midway way down, falling to her left hip, then skidding off course into the net. Dorfmeister was sixth.
American Julia Mancuso, a double bronze medalist at the recent world championships in Italy, tied for fourth with Janica Kostelic of Croatia in 1:27.73.
``I'm very happy with the fourth place, but I'm very, very unhappy with my run,'' Kostelic said. ``It was one of the worst downhill runs I've ever skied in my life.
``This course is difficult, but the most difficult thing is the snow. It was very bumpy. On every turn I was looking at the holes in front of me wondering if I should go there or here.''
Kostelic earned 50 points, putting pressure on overall World Cup leader Anja Paerson. The Swede, attempting to defend her overall crown, finished eighth for 32 points.
Paerson entered the race with a 63-point lead but is now just 45 ahead of Kostelic, with three races remaining _ a super giant slalom, giant slalom and slalom.
``I know how good shape Janica is in and also myself,'' Paerson said. ``The last three races now are going to be maybe the most important this season.''
The pair will continue their battle in the super-G Friday.
Goetschl peaked late this season, winning her first race in mid-January at Cortina d'Ampezzo, where she swept three straight victories _ a downhill and two super-Gs. She also finished second in another downhill that weekend.
The top 25 skiers in each discipline are invited to compete at the finals, in addition to the junior world champion.
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press