Aamodt Believes Maire Has World Cup Title


Todtnau, Germany, Feb. 7 (AP by Erica Bulman)--Despite finishing second in the weekend's slalom, Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt doesn't think he can catch World Cup leader Hermann Maier for the season's overall title.

``It looks impossible to beat Maier,'' Aamodt said. ``He's too strong. He's been fantastic. He's winning all the events except slalom, so I try to win what's left.''

Maier, who padded his advantage atop the overall standings with a third giant slalom win Sunday, currently leads with 1,510 points and holds a 424-point lead over Aamodt.

And while Aamodt was able to collect 80 points by finishing behind Austrian rookie Rainer Schoenfelder in Sunday's slalom _ the only event Maier does not compete in _ it wasn't enough to significantly close the monstrous gap.

With next week's races being a downhill and super-G _ Maier's best discipline _ Aamodt's deficit will likely increase again.

The 28-year-old Norwegian, who won the overall World Cup title in 1994, remains determined to reclaim the crown once more before he retires.

Last season, Maier showed he's not invincible when he failed to defend his World Cup overall title, settling for third behind Aamodt and winner Lasse Kjus.

``Last year, I predicted that Maier would win the World Cup title after watching him win a giant slalom early in the season by over 1.5 seconds,'' Aamodt said. ``Then Lasse and I both finished ahead of him in the overall and Lasse won it.

``Next year I'll try to focus on the events Maier is best in. I'd like to be up there with him and give him a better fight next year. I think it's possible.''

Aamodt hasn't given up hope of finishing with his first World Cup crystal globe in six years.

``I think I'll focus on the World Cup slalom title,'' conceded the Norwegian, who won the overall, giant slalom and super-G crowns in 1994. ``I haven't won a World Cup title in many years. And to win in the slalom, I would achieve something I hadn't done before.''

But even the slalom title won't be easy to achieve.

After seven events, Aamodt leads the slalom standings with 410 points, and holds a 69-point lead over Slovenian rising star Matjaz Vrhovnik.

But Aamodt has only one victory in the slalom on his resume.

The Norwegian posted his first career slalom victory in Wengen last month, becoming the fourth skier in history with wins in all five alpine events.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press