Maier Ready to Race After Recuperating

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February 16, 2006

SESTRIERE, Italy (AP by Erica Bulman)—Hermann Maier is feeling better and ready to resume his Olympic medal chase following four days away from the Italian Alps, the superstar skier's agent said Thursday.

The double Olympic champion from Austria flew out of the country after finishing a disappointing sixth in Sunday's downhill. His agent, Walter Della Karth, would not reveal his final destination, saying Maier wanted to recover from a nagging sore throat at lower altitude and train for his last two Olympic events.

"He was in a quiet place, racing and improving his health, Della Karth told The Associated Press on Thursday. "He is feeling better.

Maier would return Thursday night to Sestriere, Della Karth said.

Maier complained that he didn't have enough power to ski his best, then escaped the dry air and altitude of Sestriere, which sits at 6,660 feet.

According to his Web site, Maier said he felt "again very well and ready.

Before returning to Sestriere, Maier planned to spend Thursday training at a secret location with Austrian coach Andreas Evers, according to Maier's Web site.

Evers will position the gates for Saturday's super-G race. Course setters typically design the run to suit their country's best skiers and are chosen under rules that rotate the job between national coaches. U.S. ski coach John McBride is the alternate if Evers can't do the job.

Evers is the longtime coach of Maier and the rest of Austria's overall-title hopefuls. He was with Maier when the skier escaped to the Bahamas during the 2002 Salt Lake City Games as he struggled to recover from a motorcycle crash which shattered both his legs.

A simple sore throat wouldn't prevent Maier from being a medal contender in the super-G _ his favorite event.

Eight years ago at the Nagano Olympics, Maier soared off the downhill course and over two safety fences _ then came back 72 hours later to win the super-G. He won a second gold in the giant slalom, the other event he plans to compete in at the Turin Games.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press