SESTRIERE, Italy, Mar. 11 2004 (AP by Erica Bulman) — Hermann Maier won the final super giant slalom of the season Thursday and increased his overall lead in the World Cup standings.
Maier covered one of the toughest layouts of the season in 1 minute, 18.73 seconds, 0.63 seconds ahead of fellow Austrian Stephan Eberharter.
In the women’s super-G, Switzerland’s Nadia Styger earned her first career World Cup victory, and Austria’s Renate Goetschl claimed the super-G title with a seventh-place finish.
Maier extended his overall lead ahead of Eberharter to 42 points in his first full season since nearly losing his right leg in a motorcycle accident.
“Today was my best race since my comeback,” Maier said.
Another Austrian, Christoph Gruber, came in third, 0.75 seconds behind and Benjamin Raich rounded out an all-Austrian top-four finish, 0.86 seconds back, moving him ahead of Bode Miller into third place in the overall standings.
Miller, an American, nearly fell rounding a curve midway through his run, recovered, and then missed a gate before the finish and gained no points for the second straight day.
With only two races remaining this season — a giant slalom Saturday and a slalom Sunday, Maier leads the overall with 1,265 points, followed by Eberharter (1,223), Raich (1,113) and Miller (1,098). Wins are worth 100 points.
“The decision will not be made Saturday, the decision will be on Sunday because Bode is able to win both GS and slalom,” Maier said. “He is so strong.”
Miller said that if he does lose the overall it will not be solely because his performances here.
“You don’t lose the overall in the last races of the season,” he said. “It’s an accumulation of your results all season.
“It would have been a bonus if I had scored points today or in yesterday’s downhill, but the truth is, if I lose it, it would be the Park City slalom (where he fell and was disqualified), or in Flachau, where I walked away without any points over the weekend. If I had left Flachau with 180 points I’d be in the lead right now.
“That’s why it’s easy for me to see the bigger picture,” Miller said. “The plan doesn’t change, I’ll still try to win the GS and slalom.”
Maier had already clinched the super-G season title after winning in Garmisch on Feb. 1. It is his first title of any type since his August 2001 accident.
Maier earned four straight super-G titles before the accident and returned to the circuit late last season.
Daron Rahlves of the United States, who won the Hahnenkamm super-G and Wednesday’s downhill here, came in 12th and secured second place in the final super-G standings behind Maier.
Goetschl finished behind overall leader Anja Paerson, who holds a 77-point lead in the standings with her specialties, giant slalom and slalom, remaining.
Styger finished in 1:25.53. Her previous best finish in the super-G was a fifth at Lake Louise in December.
The World Cup Finals include the last men’s and women’s races in each Alpine discipline, plus cross country, snowboarding and freestyle and serve as a major rehearsal for the Turin 2006 Olympics.
Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press