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Cuche puts on slalom skis

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Three in a row may have been pushing it for Switzerland’s Didier Cuche.

After winning Tuesday’s downhill training and topping the board again in Thursday’s downhill portion of the super-combined, not many were expecting Cuche to pull in the fastest slalom time.

“I’m going to compete in slalom and do my best,” Cuche said after his downhill run. “Hopefully, I don’t go out. I’ll try to push and not lose too much time on the specialists.”

When asked about his training for slalom, Cuche said, “This summer I trained as much slalom as the last 10 years … three days.”

While Cuche didn’t have a good slalom run ” he was 34th at 49.32 seconds ” he finished the day in 22nd and picked up some World Cup points.

Austria’s Benjamin Raich, meanwhile, was sitting in decent position after taking 18th in the downhill but had to hike during his slalom run and finished out of the points. Even with the hike, Raich only finished two spots behind Cuche in the slalom.

There would be no slalom for Austria’s Hermann Maier. The Herminator had the 10th-best downhill time, but he didn’t pull any punches when asked about the super-combined.

“I don’t enjoy this combined ” it’s just training for me for the downhill,” said Maier, who through his career has never won a World Cup slalom. But if you’ve seen Maier’s track record on the Birds of Prey downhill, you know what another training run means.

– Marco Buechel, the oldest man to win a World Cup race, clearly has the potential to best his own record. Buechel, the only Lichtensteiner male on the World Cup tour, had the third-fastest downhill time Thursday but was disqualified because of a uniform issue.

– Rainer Schoenfelder, a racer who had a certain uniform issue last season, took seventh and was fully-clad.

– Injured U.S. women’s racer Caroline Lalive and injured Swedish racer and Edwards resident Patrick Jaerbyn kept plenty of racers company in the finish corral.

– Tennis great Andre Agassi was on hand to present the top three finishers with watches from official timekeeper Longines.

– Jono Brauer, who hurt his leg in last year’s super-combined, took 27th Thursday, giving Australia its first World Cup points this season.

– During the team captains meeting, Chief of Race Jim Roberts introduced an all-star lineup of five red-eyed snowcat drivers, who were rightfully given some standing applause.

– American Kevin Francis, after breaking his leg last year during downhill training, had a strong showing as a forerunner. Also running early was Chris Beckmann, who took a tumble during training at Keystone early this month that shredded the back of his training suit.

“That’s getting hung up on the wall,” Beckmann said.

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


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