Val D'Isere, France Dec. 10 (AP by, Erica Bulman)--Michaela Dorfmeister insists her position at the top of women's World Cup skiing this season has nothing to do with the absence of reigning overall champion Alexandra Meissnitzer.
The 26-year-old Dorfmeister, just one in a long list of solid Austrian skiers overshadowed by Meissnitzer last season, now finds herself perched atop the overall World Cup standings.
But even if her path was cleared of the dominating Meissnitzer _ out for the season after a training crash in Lake Louise left her knee ligaments in tatters _ Dorfmeister refuses any suggestion that her stellar teammate's absence is responsible for her own rise.
``My good performances are my own,'' Dorfmeister said. ``It has nothing to do with Alexandra being out for the season and me suddenly being liberated. It wasn't like all of us were stuck in a rut, thinking we could never beat her.
``I never suffered from a Meissnitzer complex.''
Now leading the overall standings with 342 points and the giant slalom table with 292, Dorfmeister has established herself as the skier to beat as the women move to St. Moritz for a downhill doubleheader and super-G before the Christmas break.
``I've been skiing so well this season,'' Dorfmeister said. ``I know I can win the overall even if I am only competing in three disciplines.
``I've been skiing so well in the giant slalom this season, and I feel I can improve a lot in the downhill and super-G, my main events, even if I haven't been doing well in them this season.''
Dorfmeister's sudden success in the giant slalom has mystified her.
A confirmed speed specialist, Dorfmeister was unable account for her recent performances in the technical event.
``It's incredible and I have no idea how I'm doing it,'' said Dorfmeister, who had never won a World Cup giant slalom race before this year. ``Imagine, winning two giant slaloms in a row.
``I can't figure out exactly why I'm suddenly much better. It's not like I trained any more in the giant than the downhill or super-G this summer. Maybe my material is better adjusted in the giant slalom.''
If her performance in the giant slalom is a source of wonder to her, her lack of results in the speed events is a source of concern.
Dorfmeister, second in the World Cup super-G and third in the World Cup downhill standings last season, has been mired in a slump in the speed events this year.
So far, in the super-G, Dorfmeister's best result was a lackluster 11th place on Wednesday. In the season-opening super-G, she finished a distant 20th.
In the season's only downhill, the Austrian fared little better, placing 16th in Lake Louise.
``I think it might be my equipment and maybe my attitude, too,'' said Dorfmeister, the winner of a downhill in St. Anton in 1996 and a super-G in St. Moritz last year. ``I think I haven't been aggressive enough and I haven't taken enough risks.
``I'll have to fine-tune those disciplines in the next races.''
Copyright © 1999 The Associated Press