Goetschl Wins Women's World Cup Downhill in Are, Sweden

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Are, Sweden Feb. 19 (AP)--Renate Goetschl, the most consistent downhiller on the Olympia course in the past three races, won a women's World Cup sprint downhill by .36 seconds Saturday.

The Austrian's victory extended her overall lead over teammate Michaela Dorfmeister, who topped the standings entering the three races.

One of the most versatile racers who regularly collects points in all four disciplines, Goetschl has not been as consistent as she had hoped this season.

But she can't complain about her consistency on the Olympia hill, a course designed by former Swiss downhill star Bernhard Russi.

Goetschl made the podium here in the last two races, finishing second in a regular downhill in 1998 and first in the women's inaugural sprint downhill last year.

``In the past I've been aggressive and spontaneous, taking a lot of risks and skiing out,'' she said. ``Getting older, I've been able to control myself and get more consistent. But sometimes I like to move to the edge and take a lot of risks.''

On Saturday, she skied two near-flawless runs, posting the fastest times in each heat for an aggregate of 2 minutes, 8 seconds.

She'll be back for a slalom, a discipline in which she has scored the fewest points this season, on the adjacent Gastrappet course Sunday.

``It's been tough for the athletes in Are,'' she said. ``Three tough events in four days, first two runs in giant slalom, then two in the downhill and two in the slalom tomorrow.''

Regina Haeusl, who has three seconds this season, was runner-up again, but gave the struggling German team a big boost. Haeusl now leads Isolde Kostner of Italy 388 points to 382 in the downhill standings. Kostner, winner of three of seven downhills this winter, dropped to second after placing 17th Saturday.

Stefanie Schuster, another Austrian who broke an ankle after a bad fall here last year, was third, .89 seconds behind. She has yet to win in 12 seasons.

Dorfmeister, who lost her overall lead when she skied out in Thursday's giant slalom while Goetschl finished sixth, took fourth in the downhill. She was 1.24 behind the winner.

Goetschl now has a 56-point lead (1,053-997) lead over Dorfmeister in the World Cup overall standings.

``It's too early to say if I can win the overall,'' said Goetschl, who won the downhill title last season. ``A lot of things can still happen, but it would be a great achievement if I succeed.''

Kirsten Clark was the only American to qualify for the second run. She finished 19th, 2.49 behind. Jonna Mendes, the first skier out in the opening run, fell but escaped injury. Alison Powers did not qualify for the second run.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press