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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland Feb. 2, 2003 (AP by Nesha Starcevic)–Maybe this is the most telling sign that Hermann Maier is back from his frightening motorcycle crash: He’s not satisfied with a silver medal at the world championships.
Just six races into a comeback that some doubted would ever happen, the Austrian shared second place with Bode Miller of the United States in the super giant slalom Sunday, the opening day of the two-week worlds.
“There was a lot more there for me,” Maier said. “I was very careless in the bottom. I threw it away.”
The winner was Stephan Eberharter, another Austrian who has returned from an injury, only to be pushed back into Maier’s shadow.
Eberharter finished in 1 minute, 38.80 seconds on the Corviglia course. Maier and Miller were timed at 1:39.57; American Daron Rahlves, who won the Super G at the last world championships two years ago, finished 22nd.
“I had no chance right from the start,” Rahlves said. “My skis weren’t prepared properly for these conditions.”
Also for the U.S. team, Marco Sullivan shared 17th and Jakub Fiala was 28th.
Miller, of Franconia, N.H., is second in the overall World Cup standings behind Eberharter. Miller is more of a technical specialist and started competing seriously in speed events only this season, so he was honored to be in the company of Eberharter and Maier.
“These two guys have been the best in the world in the last five or six years,” he said.
Maier is only three weeks into a comeback from an August 2001 motorcycle crash in Austria. Doctors said he was close to kidney failure and having his right leg amputated.
This was his sixth race after an arduous recovery. Among those races was a sensational victory in a World Cup Super G a week ago in Kitzbuehel, Austria.
On Sunday, the former two-time Olympic champion and three-time overall World Cup winner swung his poles in frustration after crossing the line.
“I feel I’ve recovered pretty well technically, but it’s not surprising some things are missing,” he said. “I’ve only had 3-to-4 weeks to catch up.”
Maier shared the gold medal in this event at the 1999 worlds in Vail, Colo.
“To be runner-up is not a bad outcome,” he said. “But perhaps I’ll have another chance in the downhill.”
Austria has not declared its four skiers for the downhill. Miller has yet to decide if he’s willing to risk racing the more dangerous downhill ahead of his best events.
Maier had never been to St. Moritz before. Eberharter won a Super G on this course last season and said that “surely helped.”
Eberharter has been carrying a stuffed tiger in his jacket pocket, a good-luck charm from school children in his hometown.
He was graceful in victory and dismissed the notion of a rift with Maier.
“To be the winner of this race is much more important than beating Hermann Maier,” he said. “We are getting on well with each other.”
After winning his world title in 1991, Eberharter broke his collarbone in a motocross accident the next year. He disappeared from the World Cup circuit for three seasons after then tearing knee ligaments and needing three operations.
When he worked his way back, Maier was dominating skiing. In Maier’s absence, it was Eberharter’s turn to shine, and he won the giant slalom Olympic gold medal last year, plus a silver in the Super G and a bronze in the downhill. He also won the World Cup, downhill and Super G titles.
This season Eberharter injured his knee in mid-December but recovered more quickly than expected.
“He’s always been in the shadow of Maier, but he is the best in the world,” Miller said. Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press