Maier wins super-G; Rahlves second
KITZBUEHEL, Austria – On the World Cup’s most treacherous course, Hermann Maier edged a bruised and aching Daron Rahlves by 0.02 seconds Monday to win a super giant slalom and end a 10-month victory drought.Maier replaced Bode Miller atop the super-G standings. Miller, the overall World Cup leader, shared fifth place. Maier’s Austrian teammate, Fritz Strobl, was third.”I just skied badly,” Miller said. “It was horrible execution.”Maier raced down the Streifalm course in 1 minute, 22.39 seconds for his first victory this season. He had won the super-G each of the three times he skied this slope until Rahlves beat him by 0.03 seconds last year.
“It’s always great to win here on the Austrian mountain,” said Maier, who skied in a circle after his race and pointed his right index finger to signal he was No. 1 again. “I knew Daron was one of the favorites. Coming back after two weeks off after he hurt himself, I knew he would be very motivated.”Rahlves, who has 10 World Cup victories and finished fifth in last year’s overall standings, is still recovering from a somersaulting spill two weeks ago during a giant slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland. The American arrived in Kitzbuehel unsure if he could race.”I guess it was payback this year,” Rahlves said. “But for me it’s like a victory. It was a close race and I feel really good about that. It’s my first race back and I haven’t been doing much skiing, so I wasn’t as sharp as usual.”Strobl was third in 1:22.93, and Switzerland’s Didier Defago was fourth in 1:23.02. Miller and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal followed in 1:23.06. Austria’s Benjamin Raich, Miller’s main challenger for the overall crown, was seventh.”It’s frustrating to ski so badly and finish so close,” Miller said. “I put down 15 seconds of good skiing in a minute-and-20-second-long super-G and still finished fifth. You’ve got to be happy with that.”
Maier has four super-G wins at the venue, including a comeback victory just five races after returning from a motorcycle accident in which he nearly lost his leg. He also won the downhill on the slope in 2001. He skipped the Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, last week.Maier struggled after switching brands of ski boots and faced scorching criticism from media and fans during his stretch without a victory.”For me this was a big success,” Maier said. “I hope to find the right adjustment but I feel I’m on my way.”Miller, watching Raich slowly chip at his overall lead, earned nine points more than the Austrian on Monday. Miller is first with 1,093 points, 175 ahead of Raich. Maier, the defending overall champion, climbed to third with 730.Maier leads the super-G rankings with 292 points. Miller is second at 275 and Michael Walchhofer, 11th on Monday, is third at 184.
Bad weather wiped out Friday’s super-G and Saturday’s downhill on this course. That gave Rahlves an extra few days to recuperate when the super-G was rescheduled for Monday.”I was a bit uncertain coming into this morning,” Rahlves said. “My left lower leg is still painful.”Vail Colorado