Albrecht charges for his second win | VailDaily.com
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Albrecht charges for his second win

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
SPT BOP GS Albrecht KA 12-02-07
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BEAVER CREEK ” Even after Switzerland’s Daniel Albrecht won the super-combined at the 2007 World Alpine Ski Championships last season, there was something missing.

But then Albrecht came to Beaver Creek and found just what he was looking for.

“I was a World Champion without wining (a World Cup) before,” Albrecht said. “I was always asking for that. Now, I have two wins.”



In Sunday’s Birds of Prey World Cup giant slalom, Albrecht had the fastest second run to edged out Austria’s Mario Matt by 0.05 seconds to pick up his second victory this week. Thursday, Albrecht won the super-combined for his first World Cup win.

While Matt picked up his first giant slalom podium, Switzerland’s Didier Cuche was third, only 0.11 back from Albrecht for his second podium in as many races and 33rd of his career. American Ted Ligety tied for fourth with Italy’s Massimiliano Blardone.



Albrecht was in 11th place after the first run, 1.05 seconds behind then-leader Cuche.

“I had to take some risks and I think I was a little lucky on the bottom to ski so fast,” Albrecht said.

After a slow start to his final run, Albrecht put down the fastest time in the next interval and had the second-best final interval on a section that plagued many racers.



Martin Rufener, the head coach for the Swiss men’s alpine team, had a good feeling about Albrecht heading into this week.

“We knew he was on the move and we had good preparation in Colorado before, and he fixed the last couple things he needed to improve, and when he won the combined I knew he was on a roll,” Rufener said. “We hoped (for a win Sunday), but after the first run, we thought, OK, not for a win, but for a good result.”

After he crossed the finish line with a lead of 0.58 seconds, Albrecht had to wait for 10 more racers to come down.

“It’s always a good sign when you are in first and you come into the finish,” he said. “If you had a good time … you wait for next racer and you can see where you were fast and where you lost time. Today it was strange in the finish because everybody was fast until the last interval time, and then they lost a lot of time. I always though (they) were going to beat me and then (they) were slower.”

Running earlier may have helped Albrecht shave off some extra time.

“The lower part was in the sun, which was in the shadow for others,” Rufener said.

Albrecht was second in the giant slalom at last year’s World Championships, but his previous best World Cup finish in the discipline was 11th at Beaver Creek in 2004. Although Albrecht could have probably punched into the top 10 with a safe run, he opted to go for it.

“I had a good feeling all summer and also last year, but I could never take risks ” when I did I fell out and made mistakes, and then I was slow,” Albrecht said. “It was the same in Solden this year. But I was always thinking for a good result here.”

American Bode Miller, racing in the No. 1 bib, had to hike on his first run and made a quick exit, while American Erik Schlopy, returning from a knee injury, finished 21st.

Through all of his slalom World Cup success “23 podiums and seven wins ” Matt hadn’t cracked the top 10 in giant slalom until Sunday.

“For me, it’s a special moment,” Matt said. “I risked everything and there was a little mistake in the lower part, but I’m very happy about second place.”

Matt, who was in 10th after his first run, had a great start on his second pass and finished with the third-fasted run.

“Last year, I was really fast sometimes in giant slalom, but I never had a full race going,” Matt said.

Matt, like his teammate Hermann Maier, who took 14th, didn’t have a ton of time on the hill training giant slalom. Still, the Austrian’s had their best performance this season, with four racers in the top 10 and seven in the top 15. Canada had two racers in the top 10.

The Swiss increased their podium count to four this week. In Friday’s downhill, Cuche made a mistake up high but recovered to take third. Sunday, Cuche had an error on the bottom of the course that cost him some time.

“It’s really tight in the lead, but also tight fifth (through) tenth. I’m really happy to get third in a giant slalom race,” he said. “I’m excited the way I’m skiing at the moment ” downhill, super-G and giant slalom are going well. I hope next race something comes better than third place.”

Cuche was the last skier to leave the start house.

“I said to myself before the start, ‘I don’t want to regret something when I’m down there.’ I’m not regretting the way I skied. I took a risk, it was a mistake. I could have had the victory, but I recovered.”

The third-place finish was Cuche’s first giant slalom podium since the 2005 season, and it pushed Cuche ahead of an injured Aksel Lund Svindal for the overall points. Albrecht is third, only 13 behind Cuche.

“If Albrecht would have skied at Lake Louise, he would be in the lead now,” Cuche said. “The season is long ” we’ll see. I’m skiing well, I’m enjoying it, but every time (the races) are so close. That’s the sport.”

After finishing third in last year’s overall, Cuche has found plenty of early-season success heading back to Europe.

“Before the season started, I was still looking for my race boots, and I was really nervous about what was going to happen this year,” he said. “This week and last weekend have helped me to stay cool and relaxed.”

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.

The Swiss increased their podium count to four this week. In Friday’s downhill, Cuche made a mistake up high but recovered to take third. Sunday, Cuche had an error on the bottom of the course that cost him some time.

“It’s really tight in the lead, but also tight fifth (through) tenth. I’m really happy to get third in a giant slalom race,” he said. “I’m excited the way I’m skiing at the moment ” downhill, super-G and giant slalom are going well. I hope next race something comes better than third place.”

Cuche was the last skier to leave the start house.

“I said to myself before the start, ‘I don’t want to regret something when I’m down there.’ I’m not regretting the way I skied. I took a risk, it was a mistake. I could have had the victory, but I recovered.”

The third-place finish was Cuche’s first giant slalom podium since the 2005 season, and it pushed Cuche ahead of an injured Aksel Lund Svindal for the overall points. Albrecht is third, only 13 behind Cuche.

“If Albrecht would have skied at Lake Louise, he would be in the lead now,” Cuche said. “The season is long ” we’ll see. I’m skiing well, I’m enjoying it, but every time (the races) are so close. That’s the sport.”

After finishing third in last year’s overall, Cuche has found plenty of early-season success heading back to Europe.

“Before the season started, I was still looking for my race boots, and I was really nervous about what was going to happen this year,” he said. “This week and last weekend have helped me to stay cool and relaxed.”

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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