Eberharter Powers Austria in Downhill

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Eberharter 01 11 04

CHAMONIX, France, Jan. 10, 2004 (AP by Samuel Petrequin) -- Stephan Eberharter won a World Cup downhill in which Austria showed overwhelming strength Saturday by capturing seven of the top eight spots.

Norway's Lasse Kjus was second and Austria's Michael Walchhofer was third in the race in the French Alps. For the United States, Bryon Friedman tied for 10th and Daron Rahlves was 15th.

Eberharter registered his 26th World Cup victory, matching the total of countryman Franz Klammer. Klammer, a former Olympic downhill champion, won his races between 1973-84.

"When I was young, Klammer was my idol. ... It's a great moment in my career," Eberharter said.

This also was Eberharter's 15th career downhill but his first this season. He finished in 1 minute, 59.08 seconds, with Kjus at 1:59.39 and Walchhofer at 1:59.83.

"I've never won here before," said Eberharter, the reigning World Cup champion. "I made no mistakes and felt very relaxed."

Eberharter is starting to feel better after struggling with a throat problem the past two months.

"I stopped coughing at the start of the week," he said. "I'm happy to be healthy again."

Kjus, a two-time former World Cup winner, posted his first top-three finish in the downhill she he won the Olympic silver medal in 2002.

Austria was a commanding force, winning spots four through eight: Andreas Schifferer, Hannes Trinkl, Fritz Strobl, Johann Grugger and Christoph Gruber.

Friedman, of Park City, Utah, said he achieved his goal of making the top 10.

"But I made a small error and that cost me a bit of time," he said.

Hermann Maier was 13th but the Austrian star leads the overall standings with 535 points. Kjus is second (518), followed by Austria's Benjamin Raich (487) and Eberharter (458). Bode Miller of the United States is 10th.

In the downhill standings, Walchhofer is first with 330. Eberharter (251) is second and Maier third (239).

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press