French Reign at Val d'Isere

skn120600USSAa- woman downhiller

Val d'Isere, France, Dec. 6. 2000--A rejuvenated French team took two of three podium spots Wednesday in Vald'Isere, with Regine Cavagnoud taking the win in the World Cup super G. Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) led the U.S.Ski Team in 24th in a race marking the return to action of Picabo Street (Park City, UT), who was 34th whileracing in some borrowed gear because of missing luggage.

Cavagnoud won in 1:28.72, nearly a half-second ahead of Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister (1:29.19). Cavagnoud'steammate, Carol Montillet, was third. German Martina Ertl was sixth, good enough to hold off Cavagnoud andretain the overall World Cup lead.

Challenging weather in the week prior to the 'Criterium of the First Snow' event forced organizers to move thewomen's super G to the men's course to preserve snow. Officials then had to dodge pending rain, but were able toget the race in. The women's giant slalom, originally set for Thursday, has been moved to Sestriere, Italy, thisSaturday and the regularly scheduled women's slalom Sunday.

The U.S. women were, overall, off the torrid pace they had set in opening speed races in Aspen, Colo., and LakeLouise, Alberta, the past two weekends. Clark, starting 42nd, led the U.S. Ski Team in 24th with a time of 1:30.98.Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) was 28th with 1:31.07.

After Street and Mendes tied for 34th, Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) was 44th in 1:31.92. Megan Gerety (Anchorage)went off course near the top, while Alison Powers (Winter Park, CO) had a horrible start and went off coursemidway down the course.

"The conditions were changing very rapidly, it was so warm - almost rain," said U.S. women's Head Coach MarjanCernigoj. "They skied well at the top of the course, but at the bottom they respected the mountain too much andheld back. It was difficult to come from the back into the top 30, which is no excuse, but was the case. And theybacked off and just didn't ski as good on the bottom in the flat."

He said Street - like Coach Chip White - was still waiting for the rest of her luggage, so although she had her skisand boots, she raced in a borrowed racing suit, gloves and helmet. "We had no expectation for her, just wanted tosee some good technique, but in these conditions she was cautious. Picabo was ready, but with the conditionschanging so rapidly, when she went she started No. 34, she wasn't full of confidence. It'll come."

As the race ended, light snow hit the top of the course and it was raining at the bottom. "The men will have atough time" Thursday when training begins for Saturday's downhill, Cernigoj said.