Schlamding, Austria (AP by Jan Sliva)--Austria's talent-laden Alpine skiing team has yet another star on its hands.
He's Mario Matt, who has won twice in only seven World Cup slalom starts. The second victory came Thursday night when the Austrian rookie overcame a rain-splattered course and one of the tour's old vets.
Matt, who won at Kitzbuhel, Austria two months ago in only his third start, showed it wasn't a fluke by beating Norway's Ole Kristian Furuseth by a healthy .81 seconds Thursday night.
Putting together two flawless runs under the floodlights, Matt covered the soggy Planai course in 1 minute, 44.72 seconds. Furuseth, who was second ahead of Matt in the previous race at Yongpyong, South Korea, was timed in 1:45.53, with defending World Cup slalom champion Thomas Stangassinger of Austria third in 1:45.62.
Braving driving rain and poor snow conditions in both heats, Matt capitalized on his technical yet aggressive style to lead at all intermediate times.
``It was a superb race. I'm especially proud of how I skied in the upper part of the second run,'' Matt said. ``I would like to thank the organizers for making their best to prepare the course, the snow there was really bad. Considering the quality of the surface, I've put on a superb performance.''
The slope was damaged by two days of continuous rain and the skiers competed in spring temperatures.
``It's a great feeling to win in front of your own fans,'' Matt said. ``I'm in good shape this season that everything just keeps coming to me.''
Furuseth, an all-around skier a decade ago who in recent years has concentrated on slalom, was fifth after round one but climbed to second with an aggressive second run.
``I thought I could beat them all, but Matt was really good today,'' said Furuseth, who got his third runnerup finish of the season.
The top seven places were split between Austria and Norway. Kjetil-Andre Aamodt of Norway, the leader in this season's slalom standings, finished fourth in 1:45.80, ahead of compatriot Hans-Peter Buraas, the 1998 Olympic champion, in 1:45.95.
Austria's Kilian Albrecht was sixth in 1:46.17, .37 ahead of teammate Ronald Stampfer.
Hermann Maier of Austria, who rarely skis slaloms, sat out this one but maintained a huge lead over Aamodt in the race for the overall championship. He leads the Norwegian by 360 points with five races remaining. A race victory is worth 100 points. Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press