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Bormio, Italy, Mar. 17 (AP by Vania Grandi)–In Alpine ski racing, Austria usually rules. This year, even the power team outshone itself.
Austrian Renate Goetschl clinched the overall World Cup title Thursday, joining superstar teammate Hermann Maier to become the first Austrian pair to earn the titles in the same season since 1969.
“This is a big moment for me,” Goetschl said. “A lot of people told me I could win the overall this season because I was skiing so well in all three disciplines, but I didn’t really believe them.”
Goetschl, 24, claimed the cup after trouncing her rivals in the season-ending super-G at the World Cup Finals.
Maier has been so dominant that he clinched the coveted overall title and the super-G title even before the Bormio races. Here, he grabbed his third title of the season, the downhill, and is poised to gain a fourth in Saturday’s giant slalom.
“We have such a strong team that it always keeps me motivated,” Maier said. Austrians have five of the six cups awarded so far.
The last Austrians to stand on the podium together with the overall trophy were Karl Schranz and Gertrud Gabl, 31 years ago.
On Thursday, Maier became the first skier to amass more than 2,000 World Cup points in a single season, and he won a super-G by the largest margin ever, 1.91 seconds. The previous record was 1.71 seconds.
“This is the best race in my life in the super-G,” said Maier, dubbed the “Herminator.”
Maier, 27, charged down the icy and bumpy Stelvio course, crossing the finish line in 1 minute, 40.08 seconds.
Teammate Fritz Strobl was second, followed by more two Austrians, Andreas Schifferer and Werner Franz, who tied for third.
Thousands of Maier fans _ with 2,000 painted on their foreheads _ cheered wildly and honked horns as the Austrian crossed the finish line.
“My first year I would have been happy with 400 points. Now I have five times that. It’s incredible,” Maier said.
Goetschl completed Thursday’s super-G in 1 minute, 17.89 seconds, edging Germany’s Martina Ertl by six hundredths of a second.
Austrian Brigitte Obermoser placed third, just eight hundredths back.
Goetschl took over the crystal globe from teammate and defending champion Alexandra Meissnitzer, forced to sit out the season after tearing a knee ligament in downhill training in November.
Maier recaptured it from Norwegian Lasse Kjuss, who grabbed it from the Herminator last season. Kjuss skipped most of this season with injuries.
On Wednesday, Goetschl barely missed defending her downhill crown, losing to Germany’s Regina Haeusl by just five points.
“This overall makes up for losing the downhill title,” a jubilant Goetschl said.
Despite the downhill disappointment, the 24-year-old Austrian has had an impressive season, winning six races to reach a career total of 16.
Maier has triumphed in three downhills, four super-G and three giant slaloms.
Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press