Aamodt Wins Third Straight Combined Gold

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St. Anton, Austria Feb. 6, 2001 (USSA)--Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt collected this third consecutive gold medal in combined Tuesday as he held off Austrian Mario Matt after Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) fourth at the start of the downhill - crashed midway through his race.Casey Puckett (Aspen, CO) also crashed and Jake Fiala (Breckenridge, CO) finished 12th.

Aamodt, who led the slalom Monday night, finished with a total time of 2:58.25 for his two slalom runs and Tuesday's downhill.Matt, who was second in the SL, took the silver medal in 2:58.93 with Paul Accola of Switzerland third (2:59.53).

Miller, fourth in the slalom after posting the fastest second run, went down midway through his run when he caught his left edgeand cartwheeled into and through safety fencing. He downloaded by chairlift after injuring his left knee and was taken to a localhospital for X-rays and further examination.

"It happened so fast," Miller said. "I felt like I was attacking, but I don't think there was any way to avoid what happened."

He said he had come out of his tuck going into the section to slow him, but as he came through a righthand turn, the left ski kickedout and as he tried to recover he started to come up on his right leg, only to be launched toward the fencing. Miller became entangledin the fence but eventually was freed after finally being able to kick out of his binding.

"I'm really sorry Bode got hurt," said Head Coach Bill Egan. "I hate thatpart of the sport most. It just really pains me when youngathletes - young people anywhere - get hurt...but we'll be ready to go Wednesday. We've got athletes anxious to race and we'll bethere."

Earlier, Puckett had been launched into the safety netting but after some delay, he skied down to loud cheers when he reached thefinish.

The gold medal was the third in a row for Aamodt at the World Championships and goes along with silver medals at the '94 Olympicsand the '93 Worlds. The bronze medal was Accola's fourth - silver at the '89 World Championships in Vail, bronze at the '99 Worldsin Vail and bronze in the '88 Olympics.