SESTRIERE, Italy, Mar. 11, 2004 (AP by Erica Bulman) -- Skiers Stephan Eberharter and Renate Goetschl have thoughts of winning the men's and women's overall titles.
And the Austrians certainly didn't do anything to hurt themselves Wednesday at the World Cup Finals.
It began with Eberharter finishing third behind winner Daron Rahlves to complete his season with a record 831 points in the downhill standings. He also kissed the discipline's crystal globe, already secured a week earlier in Kvitfjell, Norway.
Neither Austrian Maier nor American Bode Miller, the other contenders for the overall title, scored any points in the race. That left Eberharter in second place in the standings, just 22 points behind leader Hermann Maier.
Goetschl won the women's race to secure the downhill title by 134 points over German Hilde Gerg. It was the sixth victory of the season for Goetschl, who shredded her left knee and broke her leg in the spring of 2002.
American Rahlves had a winning time of 1 minute, 51.88 seconds to finish second in the downhill standings.
Eberharter beat his own previous best season-ending record in the downhill standings. He had 810 points when he won two years ago.
Rahlves wound up this season with 627 points in the downhill, and Maier had 537.
Struggling on a course he was unfamiliar with, Maier finished 18th, three spots out of the points. Miller was 22nd.
The outcome of the race evened things out in the chase for the overall title.
Maier remained on top with 1,165 points, followed by Eberharter with 1,143, Miller with 1,098 and Austrian Benjamin Raich with 1,063. Raich was 24th in the race.
"All four racers are in a good spot to win the overall," Eberharter said. "The answer is written in the sky, and on Sunday we will all know who has won."
Only three races remain this season, a super-G on Thursday, a giant slalom on Saturday and a slalom on Sunday.
"Now it's going to be hard," Maier said. "I have to be perfect in the super-G and good in the giant slalom to win."
Goetschl won in 1:45.01, with Switzerland's Sylviane Berthod second, 0.35 seconds behind. Isolde Kostner of Italy was third, 0.52 seconds back. Gerg finished ninth.
"I know how to be second," said Goetschl, who finished just four points behind Michaela Dorfmeister last season in the downhill standings. "Last year, I lost the title by so little, so it was a big goal of mine to win it this time."
The victory left her 73 points behind leader Anja Paerson of Sweden with three races left this week. Paerson has already clinched the slalom and giant slalom titles and will be a heavy favorite in each of those races, so Goetschl needs another good result in Thursday's super-G to give herself a decent chance to win the overall for the second time.
Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press