Andreas Schifferer Wins Men's Downhill in Val Gardena, Italy


Val Gardena, Italy Dec. 18--Being "too sneaky, too bright" cost DaronRahlves (Truckee, CA). Being too aggressive cost Chris Puckett (Boulder,CO). Being too far back cost Jakub Fiala (Breckenridge, CO). And nothingcost Andreas Schifferer, who laid down a 2:04.78 Saturday and thenheld-off challenges from Kristian Ghedina of Italy and Austrianteammates Hermann Maier and Josef (Pepi) Strobl to win Val Gardena'ssecond DH in two days.

Schifferer, skiing 12th, bagged his eighth win - his first this season- while Ghedina, who was looking to tie the great Franz Klammer's 1976feat of winning back-to-back DHs in this Dolomite Mountains town,couldn't repeat Friday's victory. Ghedina, starting 13th, settled forsecond place in 2:04.89 with Maier, running 14th, third in 2:05.00, just.02 ahead of Strobl in fourth place.

Fiala, coming out of the 54th start spot, was 38th; Rahlves was 52nd andPuckett - who seemed bound for a top-10 after his first top-20 two weeksago in Lake Louise - was a DNF as he went out at the bottom of the run.

"We screwed up on Daron's skis with waxing. We blew it," Head CoachBill Egan said, "and it cost him. We didn't give him a chance. We triedto be too sneaky, too bright, and it's really too bad for Daron. Wepulled out the wrong boards. It was just our mistake."

Puckett, who lost time Friday through the Ciaslat section at the bottomen route to a 28th-place tie with Rahlves after another solid run,"probably would've been top-5, certainly top-10," Egan said. "This wasbetter than Friday, but he went out going off a bump. He was seventhat the last intermediate - there are five checkpoints - but he missed abig opportunity. He was flying and had a great opportunity..."

Fiala, meanwhile, who had his pocket picked Friday when the racer aheadof him crashed and had to be choppered off the mountain changing raceconditions, went through similar problems Saturday, according to Egan."Jakub skied well - to start 54th and be 38th was a great effort - butthere were three course holds again and it was so dark when he went. Thelight got so bad. He killed all the guys around him, in his group...andhe's skiing so well now and I'm really proud of what he did in thisrace. His results will come; we'll go at it again after Christmas."

The men move over the mountain to Alta Badia for a giant slalom Sunday.The U.S. will start six racers - Bode Miller (Franconia, NH), ErikSchlopy (Park City, UT), Dane Spencer (Boise, ID), Thomas Vonn(Newburgh, NY), Casey Puckett (Crested Butte, CO) and Rahlves.