Kitzbuehel, Austria Jan. 22--Fritz Strobl gave the locals plenty tocheer about Saturday, overcoming a snowstorm to win the abbreviated 60thHahnenkamm downhill and lead Austrians into five of the top six spots,eight of the top 10. Chris Puckett (Boulder, CO) had the top U.S.result, finishing 20th.
It was the fourth win of his career, the second time he's won inKitzbuehel for Strobl, who also won the second DH in 1997. Saturday, hecame out of the 17th start place and finished in 1:46.54. Countryman -but no relation - Josef (Pepi) Strobl and Kristian Ghedina of Italydeadlocked for second place in 1:47.19.
With more than 50,000 fans braving the storm for the centerpiece eventin alpine racing, Hermann Maier, the runaway World Cup leader (more than400 points ahead of No. 2, Kjetil-Andre Aamodt of Norway), was deniedhis bid to tie legendary Franz Klammer with his 26th World Cup win.After being victorious Friday in the super G Maier was fourth in the DH,only the second time in 14 races this winter that he missed the top-3.
Overnight snow that continued - heavy at times - throughout the race,creating poor visibility at the top of the course and forcing organizersto drop the start to the backup start below the Mausefalle. "It thestorm wasn't really heavy, although it snow heavy periodically. Itcertainly played a role, but this is skiing," said U.S. Coach Bill Egan."It wasn't a typical Hahnenkamm, for sure, but it was still a realfestivity for a lot of people."
Eight of the top 11 finishers started in the 10-20 range; Puckett cameout of No. 44 to finish in a tie for 20th with a time of 1:48.99 whileDaron Rahlves (Truckee, CA) started 24th and found heavy going beforefinishing 26th in 1:49.36. Jake Fiala (Breckenridge, CO) was 40th andCasey Puckett (Crested Butte, CO) 41st in the field of 55.
"Chris took advantage of a nice situation and had a good one; he hadanother good finish and he's not far out of the top 25 for World CupFinals if he can get a couple of more good results," Egan said. "Daronwas in a pack of about 12-15 skiers who didn't have much chance becauseit was snowing so hard and the course really slowed. Jakub No. 45didn't have much chance and neither did Paul Casey No. 51.
The gala Hahnenkamm Weekend concludes Sunday with a slalom and combinedtally; no Americans are in the combined count. The Cafe de Colombiamen's schedule then heads to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for DH/SGon Super Bowl Weekend.