WORLD CUP UPDATE: Eberharter Wins Final Super G, Clinches Overall And SG Titles

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KVITFJELL, Norway (March 13 News Release) - A smiling Stephan Eberharter of Austria clinched his second straight World Cup overall and super G titles Thursday, coming from the back to win the super G at World Cup Finals. The victory, just as the crowd was warming to the notion of national hero Lasse Kjus winning, pushed Eberharter an insurmountable 273 points ahead of Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) with just two races remaining.

Outdoor Life Network will have Finals highlights Thursday night at 7 EST.

Eberharter, whose rise to the top of his sport in the last two seasons came as he stepped forward following a fluke injury to teammate Hermann Maier in August 2001, had a time of 1:36.97 with Kjus second in 1:37.38. Miller was 20th - out of the points, which go to just the top 15 racers at Finals - and Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), who climbed his seventh podium of the season Wednesday in the last downhill, went out in a bizarre mishap early as he hooked his left hand tip on the first gate on the course and spun around, off the course.

In the women's super G, Italy's Karen Putzer won with a time of 1:21.77 with Germany's Martina Ertl and Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria deadlocked for second at 1:22.35. Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) finished seventh and Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA) was 11th while Carole Montillet of France took the SG title.

The duel for the overall title between Eberharter and Miller, who came into the season saying he hoped to evolve into more of a four-event racer "in a couple of seasons" and wound up as the only man or woman to compete in every race, has captivated the sport since the start of the new year. But it ended Thursday...although Miller's performance still is the best for an American since Phil Mahre won the World Cup overall title, his third consecutive overall crown, in 1983.

Eberharter's story and graciousness have made him one of the more popular skiers on the tour. A world champion in 1991, he was dropped from the Austrian team after a couple of knee injuries and told to work his way back through the rugged Europa Cup meatgrinder; he won Europa Cup titles and was renamed to the national team - just in time to see Maier, a onetime bricklayer and parttime ski instructor, emerge at the end of the 1997 season and dominate men's racing - 41 World Cup wins, four World Cup titles in 2000 and again in '01 and three in 1998 plus his cart-wheeling spin out of the 1998 Olympic downhill, only to come back and win super G and giant slalom.

MAIER DEFENDS ALL THREE CROWNS
But when Maier went down in a motorcycle accident going in the Olympic preseason, Eberharter took the mantel of leadership, winning gold, silver and bronze at the Olympics plus the World Cup overall, DH and super G crystal globes. His victory Thursday, the ninth of the winter and second in SG for the 33-year-old as he overtook Leichtenstein's marco Buechel for the super G title, means he defended each title - even though he missed a couple of races after injuring a knee in a crash at Val d'Isere, France, in December.

"It worked out great today. I gave it everything I had, and I'm very happy about three globes," Eberharter said. "I really wanted to win the super G globe, so I had to go all out today.

"It's great, it's as good as last year. I was especially happy I was able to come back from my injury in Val d'Isere," he said. "My expectation about my future, first, I want to have some time off to think about what I will decide. It may take until summer to decide.

"I knew about Bode's finish, but I was really concentrating just on the race and winning the super G globe - I wasn't focused on the overall title. I can separate this. Maybe he's the man to beat for the future. There were five or six races when I wasn't able to score points, and Bode was very strong then. But for the rest of the season it was a great fight for everyone, especially the World Cup spectators. So I'm happy we created that excitement.

MILLER: "NOT ATLL DISAPOINTED..."
"Every racer has to decide his own way. His (Bode) decision was to go for all four disciplines, and that's okay. He's a good downhill racer as well. But maybe for the overall title," the Austrian said, "it's important to focus on the BIG globe and take some rest. I'm sure it was tough for Bode, but he's young, he's only 25, and he will have a great future."

For his part, Miller paid tribute to Eberharter, saluting his toughness and skill.

"Today was a really tough race. The course was a really great set. I actually didn't think I skied that badly, but the times are really tight here. In an easy super G like this, you really have to flow all the way down, just like Kjus did, as an example. I made a couple of mistakes at the top. The snow was more aggressive than I had expected," he said.

"The season's gone by really quickly. I've been a little bit sick, actually, since Korea, but overall I'm happy with my physical strength to the finish. I've had a lot of really great races this year. As with anything, there are ups and downs, but I'm not at all disappointed in the season overall.

"Two DNFs in Park City and a DNF in the GS in Adelboden were really tough for me," Miller went on. "Stephan is an amazing skier. He's been criticized a lot in the past for not having enough to finish out the season strong, but he surely has changed that...

"The GS should be good on Saturday. I still have some work to do in both GS and slalom. I've only won two races this year and I've felt I should have been able to win a lot more. But just like Eberharter, Michael Von Gruenigen (the World Cup GS leader from Switzerland who plans to retire) has been tough coming in at the end of the season to win the GS in Korea. If I can get another win, I would be really happy."

Rahlves appeared to have lost an edge on a ski as he came to the first gate; to stabilize himself, he put his left hand down but jammed it against the gate, spinning himself around and onto his back. He had it examined by a Ski Team doctor and said he planned to race Saturday in the giant slalom.

After an off-day Friday, racing resumes at World Cup Finals with the men's GS and women's slalom Saturday, then women's GS and men's slalom Sunday. The Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships are next on the schedule, running Masrch 20-25 at Whiteface, the Olympic mountain outside Lake Placid, NY.

FIS ALPINE WORLD CUP
World Cup Finals
Kvitfjell, NOR - March 13
Men's Super G
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 1:36.97
2. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 1:37.38
3. Hannes Reichelt, Austria, 1:37.40
4. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 1:37.50
5. Hannes Trinkl, Austria, 1:37.67
-
20. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 1:38.63
DNF: Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA
--
Women's Super G
1. Karen Putzer, Italy, 1:21.77
2. (tie) Martina Ertl, Germany, and Alexzandra Meissnitzer, Austria, 1:22.35
4. Renate Goetschl, Austria, 1:22.56
5. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 1:22.79
-
7. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, ME, 1:23.01
11. Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, CA, 1:23.60
--
WORLD CUP STANDINGS
Men's Overall (2 races remaining)
1. Eberharter - 1,333 points
2. Miller - 1,060
3. Aamodt, 920
4. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 709
5. Rahlves, 647
-
39. Erik Schlopy, Park City, UT, 218
53. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA, 136
55. Chip Knight, Stowe, VT, 130
74T. Tom rothrock, Cashmere, WA, 71
76. Jake Fiala, Frisco, CO, 70
101. Scott Macartney, Redmond, WA, 32
111T. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, NY, 24
132T. Dane Spencer, Boise, ID, 9
-
Men's Super G (Final - 6 races)
1. Eberharter, 356
2. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 280
3. Cuche, 270
4. Aamodt, 251
5. Reichelt, 194
-
12T. Miller, 138
24. Rahlves, 45
26T. Sullivan, 34
31. Fiala, 32
39T. Vonn, 20
49. Schlopy, 9
--
Women's Overall (2 races remaining)
1. Janica Kostelic, Croatia - 1,570
2. Putzer - 1,000
3. Dorfmeister, 972
4. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 957
5. Carole Montillet, France, 869
-
9. Clark, 643
18. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, CO, 325
20. Mendes, 307
24. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 268
39. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, MN, 169
44. Mancuso, 159
65. Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, WA, 64
82T. Katie Monahan, Aspen, CO, 39
91T. Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, WY, 24
105T. Alison Powers, Winter Park, CO, 8
110T. Bryna McCarty, concord, VT, 6
118T. Lindsey C. Kildow, Vail, CO, 3
-
Women's Super G (Final - 6 races)
1. Montillet, 493
2. Goetschl, 458
3. Putzer, 394
4. Meissnitzer, 350
5. Dorfmeister, 298
-
10. Clark, 252
13. Mendes, 191
15. Lalive, 136
25. Mancuso, 53
28. Ludlow, 48
35T. Monahan, 25ister, 972
4. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 957
5. Carole Montillet, France, 869
-
9. Clark, 643
18. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, CO, 325
20. Mendes, 307
24. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 268
39. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, MN, 169
44. Mancuso, 159
65. Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, WA, 64
82T. Katie Monahan, Aspen, CO, 39
91T. Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, WY, 24
105T. Alison Powers, Winter Park, CO, 8
110T. Bryna McCarty, concord, VT, 6
118T. Lindsey C. Kildow, Vail, CO, 3
-
Women's Super G (Final - 6 races)
1. Montillet, 493
2. Goetschl, 458
3. Putzer, 394
4. Meissnitzer, 350
5. Dorfmeister, 298
-
10. Clark, 252
13. Mendes, 191
15. Lalive, 136
25. Mancuso, 53
28. Ludlow, 48
35T. Monahan, 25