Schladming, Austria, Jan. 23, 2001--Upwards of 40,000 fans were on hand Tuesday night to watch countryman Benjamin Raich pickup his third straightWorld Cup slalom win. Sacha Gros (Vail, CO) earned his first points of the season, finishing 20th, while Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) was bound fortop-5 country before hooking a tip three gates from the finish and being disqualified.
In the second night slalom of the season, Raich had a fat first-run lead and went on to win by nearly six-tenths of a second over Olympic SL championHans-Petter Buraas of Norway. The winning time was 1:50.54 with Buraas second in 1:51.13 and third-place finisher Mitjc Kunc led four Sloveniansinto the top 10 (1:51.41).
Gros, 25th in the first run, became the 20th U.S. alpine skier - the 11th man - to score points this season. Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) was ripping,more than a half-second ahead of eventual 11th-place finisher Michael Walchhofer of Austria before he went down at the end of his second run andslid across the finish line on his face; he was DQ'd for missing a gate.
Egan: Schlopy "legitimate medal contender"
"Erik would've been top-10, no problem; he had very fast splits," said Head Coach Bill Egan. "He was so close...but, despite the disappointment, I thinkthis sets Erik up as our biggest threat going into the World Championships in slalom - honestly, a legitimate medal contender, he's skiing that well...
"And this was just what Sacha needed...his first points of the season, a good result. I'm happy with the way he skied. Sacha's been skiing much betterover the last two or three weeks, and here's a payoff."
Gros, who had been the lone member of the 13-skier World Championships team not to score points this winter, skied a smart second run and madecertain he got his finish.
Gros skied with his head
"I wanted to give it the gun in the second run," Gros said, "But I made a bunch of little mistakes at the top, so..."
He said the first-run turned out to be more difficult than it appeared during the pre-race inspection "A lot of pockets developed around the poles, so itwas tough," according to Gros.
"The conditions were good," Egan said, "but the courses were tough. They were turny and it was hard to get a rhythm, but Sacha got the result he needed.I'm pleased for him."
The crowd lining one side of the course was, by some estimates, more than 35-40 deep; there were nearly 20,000 in the finish area stadium andperhaps 5,000 more outside, who never got to see the race because they never got inside.
The men's side of the Cafe de Colombia World Cup tour moves onto Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for the weekend. A downhill is scheduled forSaturday with a super G Sunday, weather permitting. Egan said the end-of-forecast was not promising.
CAFE de COLOMBIA WORLD CUP
Schladming, AUT - Jan. 23 Men's Night Slalom 1. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 1:50.54
2. Hans-Petter Buraas, Norway, 1:51.13
3. Mitja Kunc, Slovenia, 1:51.41
4. Kilian Albrecht, Austria, 1:51.63
5. Heinz Schilchegger, Austria, 1:51.70
6. Jure Kosir, Slovenia, 1:51.94
7. Matjaz Vhrovnik, Slovenia, 1:52.01
8. Rene Mlekuz, Slovenia, 1:52.28
9. Alain Baxter, Great Britain, 1:52.37
10. Kentaro Minagawa, Japan, 1:52.41
20. Sacha Gros, Vail, CO, 1:53.36
DQ-2: Erik Schlopy, Park City, UT
Did not qualify for 2nd run: Bode Miller, Franconia, NH
Cafe de Colombia World Cup Men's Overall (24 races)
1. Hermann Maier, Austria, 993 points
2. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 669
3. Michael Von Gruenigen, Switzerland, 617
4. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 545
5. Kjetil Andre Aaamodt, Norway, 536
13. Schlopy, 299
24. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA, 210
30. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 173
39. Chad Fleischer, Vail, CO, 123
48. Casey Puckett, Aspen, CO, 85
113. Chris Puckett, Boulder, CO, 14
119. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, NY, 12
121. (tie) Gros and Dane Spenceer, Boise, ID, 11 each
128. Jake Fiala, Breckenridge, CO, 5
130. Brett Fisher, Winter Park, CO, 2
Men's Slalom (6 races)
1. Raich, 345
2. Buraas, 290
3. Mario Matt, Austria, 240
4. Schilchegger, 225
5. Aamodt, 215
29. Schlopy, 39
49. Gros, 11