Slovenia’s Jerman gets downhill win
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Riding the chair lift to the top of the hill Friday, Andrej Jerman thought he had the perfect starting number. All he needed was a perfect run.The performance was good enough to give Jerman his first World Cup win and Slovenia its first downhill victory and 50th overall in Alpine racing.”This is amazing,” Jerman said. “I’ve been working a lot for this and I had to overcome many injuries in my career. This is a great reward.”Jerman took advantage of a relatively early starting number (11), when the course was still holding up in mild weather. Later starters, including most of the top-ranked downhill racers, were well off the pace on a rapidly deteriorating, bumpy course.American Bode Miller did not place in the top 20. He finished 28th and Austrian Hermann Maier, who celebrated the first win of his storied career here 10 years ago, was 29th. American Steven Nyman finished 12th, one spot ahead of teammate Scott Macartney.The 28-year-old Jerman covered the Kandahar course in 1 minute, 56.82 seconds to beat Hans Grugger of Austria by 0.22. Erik Guay of Canada was third in 1:57.26. He’s the first Slovenian man to win any World Cup race since Mitja Kunc took a slalom event seven years ago.”It was definitely a big advantage to start early, but you also have to ski well to win and I did that,” Jerman said.Austrian Michael Walchhofer crashed hard in a curve at the bottom of the course and was taken to a local hospital with possible cracked ribs. Tests revealed no serious injuries, Austrian team officials said.World Cup downhill leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland was already on the course when Walchhofer went flying into the safety netting. Cuche had to restart and finished 20th.Cuche retained his 100-point downhill lead over Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein. Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who won the world downhill title this month in Are, Sweden, finished 16th and stayed 90 points ahead of Benjamin Raich of Austria in the overall standings.Slovenia produced a number of excellent technical skiers and winners in slalom and giant slalom races but had little success in the downhill at World Cup races. Jerman’s previous best finishes on the circuit were a pair of fourth places, one of them in a combined.The Friday race replaced a downhill from Kitzbuehel, Austria, that had to be called off in January because of bad conditions. Another downhill is scheduled for Saturday in this southern German resort, with a slalom to follow on Sunday.