Maribor, Slovenia, Jan. 6 (AP by Vania Grandi)–Michaela Dorfmeister led the World Cup standings for a mere three days in December. Her second stint at the top should last awhile longer.
The eccentric Austrian, who loves to spike and color her hair, vaulted back atop the overall standings Wednesday after dominating a World Cup giant slalom _ her third season victory.
With two of the top racers sidelined with injuries, Dorfmeister appears to have few challengers.
The tour’s newest star, 18-year-old Croat Janica Kostelic, who dominated the first races of the season, crashed in a downhill last month and is out for the year.
Last season’s World Cup winner, Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria, is also out with a knee injury.
That leaves Dorfmeister to fend off fellow Austrian Renate Goetschl, who trails by 38 points in the standings and is winless this season.
Dorfmeister insists, however, “I feel no pressure to win the overall.”
“I will do my best and focus on each race one by one,” the 26-year-old Dorfmeister said. “Before the season started, I was aiming to be in the top 10 overall.”
Considered a speed specialist _ capturing the silver in downhill and the bronze in super-G at last year’s Worlds _ Dorfmeister has stunned her rivals this year by claiming three of six giant slaloms.
“I am happy to have raced so fast,” Dorfmeister said. “Now I look forward to the speed events.”
Quickest in both runs Wednesday, Dorfmeister clocked a combined time of 2 minutes, 14.68 seconds.
The silver medalist in super-G at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Dorfmeister had never won a giant slalom prior to December.
She briefly led the World Cup after clinching her second giant slalom in Val D’Isere, France. Kostelic regained the lead three days later when she won a slalom.
Switzerland’s Sonja Nef, winner of the season opening giant slalom in October, was second Wednesday in 2:15.54, nearly a second back.
“I am happy to be on the podium,” Nef said. “I made a few mistakes in the first run, so I had to risk everything in the second.”
Austrian veteran Anita Wachter, the winner here last year, finished third in 2:16.28.
Wachter, 32, aiming for her 20th career victory, said Wednesday’s course was a bit too fast and the turns too wide open for her style.
The Austrian claimed last week’s giant slalom in Lienz, Austria, on a much steeper hill and a tight, twisty course.
Allison Forsyth of Canada was fourth. The 21-year-old scored her first podium last week in Lienz, finishing second.
Copyright (c) 1999 The Associated Press