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St. Anton, Austria Feb. 13–After skiing almost all of the Ninetieson the World Cup, Austrian Werner Franz finally got his first World Cupvictory – and he had to share it with a teammate. Franz and FritzStrobl, who will be competing later this week at the Winter GoodwillGames in Lake Placid, tied for first place Sunday in the second super Gof the weekend on the steep 2001 World Championships course.
World Cup leader Hermann Maier, who blew off the course just six gatesinto his run Saturday when he stepped on one of his boots, took thirdplace with Daron Rahlves (Truckee, CA) the top American in 12th place.Outdoor Life Network will televise coverage of the race today at 7 p.m.EST.
Franz, better known as a downhiller and with nine second-place finishesin his career, and Strobl – whose other victory this season came a monthago when he won the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuehel for the second time -shared a time of 1:20.72. Austrians have won the last 21 World Cup SGs,going back to a win by Frenchman Luc Alphand in Garmisch, Germany inFebruary 1997; the next day, a young Austrian named Hermann Maiercollected the first of what has become 27 World Cup victories.
Although Maier and Norwegian Lasse Kjus tied for the gold at the ’99World Championships in Beaver Creek, Colo., a year ago, it’s the firsttime the men have tie in a World Cup since Austrian Sepp Walcher andSepp Ferstl and then-West Germany tied in the second downhill atKitzbuehel in 1978. The women’s slalom schedule opened the season with atie between Spela Pretnar of Slovania and Christel Saioni of France inthe Chevy Truck Women’s World Challenge, the first World Cup slalom ofthe winter at Copper Mountain, Colo.
Maier was clocked in 1:20.98 and conceded blowing out Saturday high onthe course rattled him a bit in the second race of the weekend. “I skiedlike a chicken….like a beetle that has fallen on its back,” he toldreporters.
Rahlves’ time was 1:22.58 and Jake Fiala (Breckenridge, CO) finished33rd in 1:24.79. The Puckett brothers, Chris (Boulder, CO) and Casey(Crested Butte, CO), were among the two dozen DNFs. Saturday, the short,steep course – which had two days of training wiped out because of snowand fog – claimed 25 DNFs; that race was changed from a DH to super Gwhen they couldn’t complete even one run of training.
Strobl, who was sixth Saturday, said he went back and inspected thecourse to boost his result Sunday. “Sometimes the races start the daybefore,” he said. Werner said he was surprised his first triumph came inSG, but he was pleased to finally win. U.S. Coach Bill Egan added,”Franz must’ve set some record for scoring the most World Cup pointswithout a victory.”
He added, “It was an okay day for us – Daron made some mistakes but hewon one section and was fourth in another, and this assures him of aplace in the World Cup Finals in super G. We’ve got one more super G inKvitfjell and then the finals. Jake’s going home to race the GoodwillGames and then he’ll ski in Nor Ams; he picked up some really experiencethis year and he’ll be fine…Paul Casey, though, couldn’t bring it homeand he let one get away here. One super G remaining and he’d need a bigresult to get into top 25.”
Reflecting on the two-day wipeout ratio, which saw nearly 40 percent ofthe field go down each day, he noted, “This is an extremely, extremelydifficult super G. There’s just nothing easy about it and anybody who’sfinished here has done a good job.”
Egan is taking Rahlves, Fiala, Chris Puckett and Brett Fischer (WinterPark, CO) to Lake Placid for the double DH Thursday-Friday in theinaugural Goodwill Games. In addition to the co-winners, Strobl andFranz, Austria is sending Hannes Trinkl, Roland Assinger and ChristianGreber for the two DHs. U.S. Head GS/SL Coach Jesse Hunt will be withthe technical team Feb. 20-21 in Adelboden, Switzerland, for a GS/SLpairing and then to South Korea, again for GS/SL – Feb. 26-27 in YongPyong.