Berchtesgaden, Germany, Jan. 8 (AP by Roy Kammerer)--Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister knows what it's like to lose by a few-hundredths of a second. Now she can feel the other side.
Dorfmeister won her fourth World Cup giant slalom in her last five races, edging Italy's Karen Putzer by two-hundredths of a second in one of the season's closest races Saturday.
``My success has given me the self-confidence that I can win anywhere in any situation, whether the slope is fast or slow,'' said Dorfmeister, who flashed across the finish line in two minutes, 24.05 seconds to 2:24.07 for the Italian.
At the Nagano Olympics, things didn't quite work out so well for Dorfmeister, who lost the gold medal to Picabo Street by one-hundredth of a second in the Super-G.
Dorfmeister leads the overall World Cup standings with 669 points, followed by fellow Austrian Renate Goetchl at 542 and Italy's Isolde Kostner at 461.
``The skis fit, the shoes fit, the bindings fit, it fits in my head _ when that happens, you are going to have success,'' Dorfmeister said.
The Austrian had runs of 1:12.15 and 1:11.90 as she used her speed to overcome some small mistakes on one of the tour's easiest courses made trickier through hard, icy snow.
Germany's Martina Ertl was third in 2:24.31, the best performance of a disappointing year for the 1998 overall World Cup champion in the event.
But it appeared Putzer, the rising 21-year-old Italian, had the race sealed up until the very end. She led after the first run and still held a .36 second lead at the halfway split on the second run.
When Putzer flashed across the finish line .02 seconds slower than Dorfmeister, it drew a gasp from the crowd.
``Certainly I'll think about it when you lose by that little, but I think second is OK,'' said Putzer, 21, a former junior world champion whose first career win was a super-G earlier this season.
Dorfmeister, who has stunned the competition by her successful switch to the more technical giant slalom this season, said her confidence is soaring.
Ertl, who tinkered with her style during Christmas after failing to crack the podium this year, had the fastest second run of 1:11.63 as a home crowd cheered wildly.
``I worked on technical things, so it's not easy to correct. I'm happy that it happened so fast,'' Ertl said.
Sarah Schleper, of Vail, Colo., was tied for 11th in 2:25.36 despite starting 45th. Canada's Allison Forsyth finished 14th. Kristina Koznick, of Burnsville, Minn., finished 18th in 2:25.53, followed by Caroline Lalive, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in 2:26.12.
A slalom race will be run Sunday.
Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press