PARK CITY (USST report) - Austrian Rainer Schoenfelder tore through the first run Sunday and held off Frenchman Pierrick Bourgeat to win the first slalom ofthe World Cup season on the final day of the Chevy Truck America's Opening. ChipKnight (Stowe, VT), stepping up to fill-in as Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) hikeda missed gate, registered the best result of his career, finishing seventh.
NBC will broadcast coverage of the race, which was shifted from Picabo's Run tothe adjacent CB's Run at Park City Mountain Resort, on Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. EST.
Schoenfelder, who tuned-up for the World Cup by winning a Nature Valley AlpineCup slalom at Colorado's Loveland Basin on the 16th, had a two-run time of1:46.56 for his third World Cup triumph. Bourgeat, who tied for 10th in thefirst run, finished in 1:46.66 with Austrian Benjamin Raich third at 1:46.89.
Knight, starting 26th after sweeping the Nor Am overall/GS/SL titles a year ago,was 22nd in the first run but he shredded the second run to finish in 1:47.52.Tom Rothrock (Cashmere, WA) finished 21st with local favorite Erik Schlopy (ParkCity, UT) 27th after mysteriously scrubbing time on the flats heading into thefinal section, as did defending World Cup slalom champ Ivica Kostelic of Crotia,who was second after the opening run but wound up 14th.
Miller, starting No. 2, said his left ski got caught in the changing snow. Itbroke through some soft snow on a righthand turn but as he tried to pull itback, it hooked on hard snow and he went down on his right hip, missed a gate,hiked it, and finished about six seconds behind Schoenfelder in the first run.
"I was really nervous this morning," said Knight, whose best previous result was14th in Wengen, Switzerland, during the 1997 season in addition to 12th at theOlympics last February. He had two DNFs (Did not finish) at Loveland andstruggled during the week, but his coaches pointed out he was skiing fast and tomaintain his focus, not let it get to him; the finishes would come, he said.
"I knew I was skiing well but I was a little worried because I knew I had tofinish. But it was good to hear that."
He re-studied the second run course-set as he went up on the chairlift, Knightsaid, and was mindful of the need to carry his speed onto the flatter bottomsection. "Right off that elbow, where you had to carry your speed across theflats - that was a really critical point."The course workers did a fantastic job. It was raining Saturday and theyworked on it, and when we came out today it was ice. They just did such afantastic job of preparing the course. It was so hard, you really had topressure the ski at the top of the turn in warmup, and that was nice to see.They did a good job preparing the hill under the conditions. First run, therewasn't even a chatter."Head Coach Phil McNichol said he was very pleased with the showing Sunday, thesecond straight respectable result after seven out of eight U.S. men didn'tfinish in the opening GS of the season a month earlier in Soelden, Austria.
"You can see the depth and the potential in the program. For me," the coachcontinued, "I'm extremely ecstatic right now over what's capable for this yearon the World Cup. We've had a solid weekend and we've been getting some top ten finishes and now we need to go after some top threes."
The men's World Cup tour heads to Lake Louise in the snow-starved CanadianRockies for a downhill and super G Nov. 30-Dec. 1. The women leave the ChevyTruck America's Opening and head to the Chevy Truck Aspen Winternational inColorado for a super G Friday and slalom Saturday.
ALPINE WORLD CUP SKIING
Chevy Truck America's Opening
Park City Mountain Resort
Park City, UT - Nov. 24
1. Rainer Schoenfelder, Austria, 1:46.56
2. Pierrick Bourgeat, France, 1:46.66
3. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 1:46.89
4. Manfred Pranger, Austria, 1:47.38
5. Truls Ove Karlsen, Norway, 1:47.46
7. Chip Knight, Stowe, VT, 1:47.52
21. Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, WA, 1:48.0727. Erik Schlopy, Park City, UT, 1:49.72
Did not qualify for 2nd run:
Bode Miller, Franconia, NH; Bryon Friedman, Park City, UT; Jake Zamansky,Carbondale, CO
World Cup Standings (3 races)
1. Michael Von Gruenigen, Switzerland, 160 points
2. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 132
3. Raich, 120
4. Schoenfelder, 115
5. Frederic Covili, France, 109
15. Schlopy, 49
17T Miller, 45
22. Knight, 36
45T Rothrock, 10
48. Dane Spencer, Boise, ID, 9
56T Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, NY, 4