Walchhofer leads Austrian downhill sweep; Miller seventh
VAL D’ISERE, France – Michael Walchhofer led an Austrian sweep at a World Cup downhill Saturday, while Bode Miller finished seventh and U.S. teammate Daron Rahlves was 14th.Walchhofer, the defending World Cup champion, finished ahead of reigning Olympic champ Fritz Strobl and Hans Grugger.”It’s a great victory for me,” Walchhofer said. “It’s a bit of a comeback. Maybe I was too overconfident at the start of the season.”
He was seventh in a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, and 10th at Beaver Creek, Colo.Miller and Rahlves were coming off a 1-2 finish last week at Beaver Creek. This time, Miller shared seventh place with Erik Guay of Canada, and Rahlves knew his skiing was not as crisp as it might have been.”I was back on my skis too much at the top of the course,” Rahlves said. “Otherwise, it could have been a much better run, maybe fifth place.”He said the Val d’Isere course is much different from the one at Beaver Creek.
“Beaver Creek is a lot more about risk and fighting,” he said. “On this hill you need to relax and be on top of it and let the skis take you down. I just couldn’t get in a flow.”Miller gained enough points to move top of the overall standings with 318 points, knocking Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal into second with 307. Rahlves dropped from second to third with 303 points, with Strobl improving to fourth.Austria’s Hermann Maier, who won the season-opening event at Soelden, Austria, in October, was ninth.”I’m not too disappointed,” Maier said. “I made some mistakes on the course, so that result is really OK. They were very quick conditions and it’s a good result for us.”
Strobl secured his second top-three finish in the downhill this season after winning the opener at Lake Louise.”The time gap between me and Michael was big and I can have no complaints,” Strobl said. “I’m glad to be top of the downhill standings, but the season is long.”Local fans who packed the course had little to cheer – the top-placed Frenchman was Yannick Bertrand in 15th place.Vail, Colorado