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Swiss Lead, US Men follow in Top 11 at Les Arcs GS


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Les Arcs, France, Jan. 8, 2001–Swiss racer Michael Von Gruenigen had the fastest first-run time Saturday despite fog and sloppy conditions and wenton to win a World Cup giant slalom. Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) moved up from 12th in the first run to finish eighth with Erik Schlopy 11th and DaronRahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) 21st.

Von Gruenigen was timed in 2:43.67 for his victory with Austrian Benjamin Raich finishing second in 2:45.29. Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein finishedthird in 2:45.80 with Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway fourth (2:45.97) and Swiss Urs Kaelin fifth (2:45.98).

Miller, grabbing his fourth top-10 of the season, finished in 2:46.28. Schlopy’s two-run time was 2:46.42 and Rahlves came in 21st in 2:48.30.

“It was a very demanding course, not much room for mistakes,” Miller said. “The fog made it tough; there were some places where I couldn’t see.”

“Conditions were crazy…”

Coach Jesse Hunt echoed Miller, noting, “The conditions were crazy. It doesn’t want to turn into winter over here. We’re at 2,000 meters and it’s stillraining.

“The race was really tough. The snow was soft and chopped up and the guys did a great job of hanging in there,” he said. “Daron was third fasteston the second run, so he moved up eight places, and Bode and Schlopy really did well, too. I think Erik skied conservatively, but that’s good, giventhese condtions; I’m psyched with the consistency they’re showing and how they’re skiing so well tactically. They keep scoring points and moving up.”

The start of the race’s first run was delayed about 30 minutes after a night-long rain created soupy conditions. The rain stopped a short time beforethe race got underway.

Miller/Schlopy Win Exhibition GS

Miller and Schlopy came into the race after skiing well in two invitation-only exhibition races in Sestriere, Italy, earlier in the week. In abest-two-runs-of-three slalom format, Miller had the fastest single run but Schlopy edged him by .01 for two-run total time, and the twosome won theteam event with two Finns in second place. The next day in a GS, Von Gruenigen won with Schlopy fourth and Miller seventh.

“The Austrians and Norwegians didn’t show, but everyone else was there – the Italians, Swiss, Finns, Slovenians…a really good field,” Hunt said. “VonGruenigen’s skiing so well. He’s got such balance and has the confidence, and you could see it again today.”

The men compete Sunday in slalom – with more rain forecast during the night before possibly turning to snow by dawn – before moving on toAdelboden, Switzerland, for their annual GS Tuesday before a downhill/slalom/combined lineup Jan. 13-14 in Wengen, Switzerland.

Les Arcs, France–Jan. 6

Men’s GS

1. Michael Von Gruenigen, Switzerland, 2:43.67
2. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 2:45.29
3. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 2:45.80
4. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 2:45.97
5. Urs Kaelin, Switzerland, 2:45.98
6. Fredrik Nyberg, Sweden, 2:46.23
7. Hermann Maier, Austria, 2:46.25
8. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 2:46.28
9. Heinz Schilchegger, Austria, 2:46.33
10. Frederic Covili, France, 2:46.40
11. Erik Schlopy, Park City, UT, 2:46.42
12. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 2:46.46
13. Vincent Millet, France, 2:46.59
14. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 2:46.84
15. Christoph Gruber, Austria, 2:46.87
16. Hans Knauss, Austria, 2:47.26
17. Joel Chenal, France, 2:47.58
18. Jeff Piccard, France, 2:48.04
19. Paul Accola, Switzerland, 2:48.05
20. Raphael Burtin, France, 2:48.20
21. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA, 2:48.30
22. Thomas Grandi, Canada, 2:48.69
23. Davide Simoncelli, Italy, 2:48.72
24. Alessandro Roberto, Italy, 2:48.79
25. Jernej Koblar, Slovenia, 2:50.36

DNF-2: Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, NY
DNF-1: Casey Puckett, Aspen, CO
Did not qualify for 2nd run: Chip Knight, New Canaan, CT