Austria's Goetschl Wins Downhill in Italy

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Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy Jan. 26, 2002 (AP by Jeff Israely)--Austria's Renate Goetschl recorded her first downhill victory of the season Saturday in what might have been Picabo Street's last World Cup race.

U.S. skiers struggled again in the downhill, with Kirsten Clark finishing 13th and Street 19th.

Street was shaky in a downhill she won in 1995 and 1996. Her poor showing in Friday's super-G left her off the Olympic team in an event she won four years ago in Nagano, Japan.

The 30-year-old Street has qualified for the Olympic downhill and is considering retirement after the Salt Lake City Games. If she does, Saturday's race would be her last World Cup event. Much of the U.S. team plans to skip next week's races in Are, Sweden.

Goetschl was timed in 1 minute, 33.66 seconds. she was followed by two Italians _ Isolde Kostner in 1:33.87 and Daniela Ceccarelli in 1:33.99 for her best career finish.

``It's been a long wait,'' said Goetschl, who narrowly missed a win in Friday's super-G. ``I didn't start the season well, but I've been improving race after race and now I'm where I want to be.''

This was the 11th career downhill victory for Goetschl, who won the World Cup title in the event in 1997.

``I was very confident after yesterday,'' Goetschl said. ``I didn't need this win to have confidence going into the Olympics, but it's great to have it.''

Kostner, the defending World Cup downhill champion, maintained her lead in this year's standings. She has 460 points, with Germany's Hilde Gerg next at 336.

Gerg, winner of the super-G and the last two World Cup downhills, finished 10th for her poorest downhill finish this season.

Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister came in seventh to keep her lead in the overall standings. She has 776 points, with Gerg at 701. The top American is Kristina Koznick, in seventh place at 467.

The three-day World Cup meet ends Sunday with a giant slalom.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press