Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 12, 2002 -- World Cup leader Stephan Eberharter led an Austrian invasion into the top spots Saturday at the heralded Lauberhorn Downhill with teammates Hannes Trinkl second and Josef "Pepi" Strobl third. Daron Rahlves of Sugar Bowl, CA was the top American, finishing ninth.
Outdoor Life Network will televise coverage of the Lauberhorn Monday night at 8 EST.
In the longest downhill of the Cafe de Colombia tour, Eberharter wore bid number 2 on a day where only one of the top 20 came from outside the first 30 racers. Defending World Champion Trinkl -- racing for the first time since a leg injury in November -- was .26 of out first and Strobl, who won the last downhill in Wengen two years ago, completed the podium .45 behind the leader. Austrians also were 5-6-7.
The top American was Rahlves with his second top-10 finish of the season, following a sixth in Bormio, Italy, two weeks ago. Marco Sullivan of Squaw Valley, CA was 44th, Bode Miller of Franconia, NH was 45th and Casey Puckett of Aspen, CO was disqualified. Miller and Puckett were looking to position themselves for the first combined calculation of the season, blending Saturday's downhill with a slalom to be held on Sunday.
"Daron's best section was the bottom; he was fourth in the last section," said Coach Dale Stephens. "The rest was okay, not great but okay. It definitely could've been better. The conditions were good and to have three training runs plus a race on this hill, or any time, were outstanding."
Sullivan, in his first full season on the World Cup, "made progress all week but just didn't bring it into today. He made a bad mistake at one point and that really cost him. There's a big righthander turn and then right back into a big lefthander -- it's a real quick move -- and Marco got a little stuck making the switch. But he showed good progress through the week, and he's learning, which is why he's here."
In a related development, Stephens said veteran Chad Fleischer of Vail, CO was expected to fly home in a few days after injuring his right knee in a training crash Thursday. Fleischer, who was bidding for his third Olympics, is done for the season after tearing ligaments, but the coach said it may not be as bad as originally though. He'll fly to the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail for further examination.
The Lauberhorn Weekend concludes Sunday with the slalom and the tour heads to Kitzbuehel, Austria, for the annual Hahnenkamm downhill.
CAFE DE COLOMBIA WORLD CUP
Lauberhorn Downhill, Wengen, SUI - Jan. 12
World Cup Downhill
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 2:28.41
2. Hannes Trinkl, Austria, 2:28.67
3. Josef Strobl, Austria, 2:28.86
4. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 2:29.72
5. Peter Rzehak, Austria, 2:29.89
9. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif., 2:30.72
44. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, Calif., 2:33.99
45. Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H., 2:34.49
DSQ: Casey Puckett, Aspen, Colo.
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 832 points
2. Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H., 540
3. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 506
4. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 466
5. Frederic Covili, France, 413
35. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif., 121
59. Erik Schlopy, Park City, Utah, 55
67. Chad Fleischer, Vail, Colo., 41
75. Casey Puckett, Aspen, Colo. 34
80. Dane Spencer, Boise, Idaho, 32
92. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, N.Y., 23
106. Chip Knight, Stowe, Vt., 14
121. Sacha Gros, Vail, Colo., 6
126. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, Calif., 4
128. Jake Fiala, Frisco, Colo., 3
Men's Downhill Standings
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 470
2. Fritz Strobl, 300
3. Christian Greber, Austria, 245
4. Franco Cavegn, Switzerland, 243
5. Josef Strobl, 238
17. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif., 101
27. Chad Fleischer, Vail, Colo., 41
48. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, Calif., 4
49. Jake Fiala, Frisco, Colo., 3<