Downhills Very Similar to Super-Gs, Athletes say

World Alpine Ski Championships Logo

Thu February 1, 2001 07:47 EST

ST. ANTON, Austria Feb. 1 (AP) ¿Erica Bulman

Daron Rahlves gets another chance for ashocking victory at the skiing World Championships in the men's downhill on Saturday.

Daron Rahlves gets another chance for a shocking victory at the skiing World Championships in the men's downhill on Saturday.

Rahlves, from Truckee, Calif, upset favorite Hermann Maier in the super giant slalom -Maier's favorite event- on Tuesday. Maier finished third behind Rahlves and Stefan Eberharter.

The downhill course, designed by Austrian hero Karl Schranz, is a technically demanding one, peppered with small jumps and long, fast curves, and a tricky layout.

``It's very similar to the super-G, which is good for me,'' said Rahlves, who is seeking to add the downhill title to his super-G crown. ``It's an exciting course, there are no big jumps, but little ones leap out at you and keep you on your toes.

``There are some fast sections that lead to quick turns. You need to anticipate a lot. For me, it's a good kind of course,'' said Rahlves, who took it easy in the first practice run Wednesday and finished ninth. Maier was fourth.

Considering that Rahlves swept back-to-back downhills in Kvitfjell, Norway, at the end of last season, a double is not out of the question.

``I'm feeling ready to take it again,'' Rahlves said. ``It would be nice to back it up.''

Maier took heart that the men's downhill bears a close resemblance to the super-G.

``There's lot of curves, and it is also very long,'' said Maier, who leads the World Cup downhill standings. ``The many curves certainly rob your strength.

``I'm really looking forward to this downhill. A more difficultdownhill is easier to win than an easy one, where anyone can race.''

Despite the numerous turns that slow the course down, the race stillpromises to be dramatic.

``It looks spectacular when there are lots of waves and there's lots of movement,'' Austrian Fritz Strobl said. ``It's one curve after another, and at high speed, you can never get into the tuck. And with good visibility and a hard surface it's certainly going to look very spectacular.''

The winner of three downhills this season, including the last one on the notorious Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuehel, Maier once again enters as the favorite.

Eberharter, who has climbed the podium in all but one downhill this season, including a win in the opener in Lake Louise, Alberta, is another contender, along with Norway's Lasse Kjus, Austrians Hannes Trinkl and Strobl and Rahlves, who finished third in Kitzbuehel.

In contrast to the men, many women skiers found their course disappointing.

``It's very easy, which means there will be no room for error because everybody can do it,'' said Italy's Isolde Kostner, the current women's downhill World Cup leader. ``There are so many turns, more than thesuper-G. I hope it freezes hard so it gets faster.''

France's Carole Montillet labeled it ``disappointing for a world championship.''

``It will come down to an exercise in precision,'' she said.

Austria's Stefanie Schuster posted the fastest time in the women's second training session Wednesday, followed by Americans Jonna Mendes and Kirsten Clark.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press