Maier dominant in fifth race back
Hermann Maier is back! And so is the Austrian alpine ski team, which suffered a rare shutout on the Hahnenkamm downhill podium when American Daron Rahlves won that event Jan. 25. Maier led a top-five Austrian sweep in winning Monday’s rescheduled World Cup super G in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in only his fifth race back after a motorcycle accident in 2001 nearly ended his career.American Bode Miller, who is in the running to become the first U.S. overall World Cup champion in 20 years came in 13th and teammate Jake Fiala finished 16th.Miller dropped to second place in the World Cup standings, eight points behind Austrian Stephan Eberharter after failing to finish Tuesday’s night slalom in Schladming.Maier started 22nd on a snowy, low-visibility day and posted a time no one could beat in 1:20.48. Christoph Gruber was second, .11 back, with Stephan Eberharter losing the race in the Zielschuss, finishing third at .15 behind Maier.Many believed Maier could not come back, and his return at Adelboden two weeks ago caught them by surprise.”I think when I came back I had too much of an expectation on myself,” Maier said. “So I had to change my tactics. Today, in the start, I thought of having one of the best times — maybe not winning — but having one of the best times.”The race was almost called as heavy, heavy snow began about a half-hour prior to start. American Marco Sullivan was the first U.S. victim of conditions, pulling out just past the midway point after having trouble keeping on line. Thomas Vonn of the U.S. made it to the bottom, but it wasn’t pretty.”I took this HUGE air in Johno’s section at the top. I knew the jump was there, but I couldn’t see a thing and all of a sudden, bam, I’m flying about 50 feet and it felt like I was 12 feet in the air. I was going right at a gate panel.” said Vonn, who finished 35th.Rahlves was never really on pace against the eventual winning times, but lost any chance with a big mistake at the bottom. “I just got too much on my left ski and shot way wide,” he said.”The super G has been disappointing (for me) this season, with just no results,” he added. “I haven’t had a good run top-to-bottom yet. I feel like I can change that quickly. And in St. Moritz, I’m going to be ready for that race.”Today it was tactics which just threw me off. It’s not a good feeling to keep doing that. The downhill side of things is where I put the heavier price, but I’ve done well in super G in the past. But I’m looking forward to get it going again in St. Moritz.”Miller battled snow in and on his goggles. By the lower part of the course, he had extremely limited visibility. He had a top-10 top split, but was 28th on the bottom.q–Vail Trail staff report
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