Kitzbuehl, Austria, Jan. 19, 2001--It was an all-Austrian podium Friday as Hermann Maier kicked off the 61st annual Hahnenkamm WorldCup weekend by winning the super G on the legendary Austrian course. Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) finished fourth, leading four U.S.skiers into the top-30.
ESPN will air coverage of the race tonight at midnight EST.
Maier took the win with a time of 1:21.72, almost a second faster than teammate Josef Strobl, who finished second in 1:22.67. AustrianWerner Franz rounded out the podium in third, recording a 1:22.89. Rahlves was fourth in 1:23.10 and Austrian Hannes Trinkl was fifth in1:23.34.
It was the second straight victory for Maier at the Kitzbuehel super G. The win was the 15th of his super G career and second this seasonas he also won at Lake Louise, Alberta.
"It was simply brilliant," said the 'Herminator'. "I am amazed about my own race, especially in the difficult lower part. Hopefully tomorrow (inthe downhill), I can make the same speed as today."
It was Rahlves' first top-5 finish of the season, a huge confidence boost after starting this year off slowly. He finished the '00 season offstrong with back-to-back downhill wins in Kvitfjell, Norway, but skied out during the super G and was 16th in the downhill in earlyDecember this year at Beaver Creek, Colo.
Rahlves posted three solid days of training this week on the Hahnenkamm, finishing fourth Tuesday, eighth Wednesday and 10thThursday.
Rahlves matched his previous best super G finish as he was fourth in a '95 race in Kvitfjell.
After Rahlves, three other of the U.S. Team's six starters finished in the top-30; Casey Puckett (Aspen, CO) was 16th (1:25.12), Jakub Fiala(Breckenridge, CO) placed 26th (1:26.56) and Thomas Vonn (Newburgh, NY) was 28th (1:26.77).
Vonn's finish was especially sweet for him as he was racing in just his second career World Cup super G. Not only that, but throw in thefact that Thursday's training session was the first time Vonn had ever put skis down on the Hahnenkamm course. He came out of the 55thstart spot of 61 that were originally on the start list.
"I tried to scare myself (in training) so I knew what it would be like in the race," said Vonn, who won a Chevy Truck Super Series super Gand a giant slalom at Beaver Creek, Colo. in early December. "It was pretty scary. It's definitely an eye opener. I had a lot of fun."
Fiala matched his previous best World Cup result with the 26th place finish. He was 26th in a '99 downhill in Wengen, Switzerland. Friday'sfinish was his best super G result, topping his 29th place showing last season in Kitzbuehel.
Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO) was disqualified for missing a gate near the bottom of the course and Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) crashedcoming off of a jump. Miller, who started 50th, slid a lengthy way down the rock solid course, causing the right side of his speed suit topartly burn off.
"It's a tough hill," said U.S. speed coach Dale Stephens. "I mean, it's very hard snow, there's a lot of sidehill, it's rough in places, it's fast. It'sfairly narrow and there's just a lot of places where it catches up to guys."
Stephens was pleased with the Team's performance on what is generally considered the toughest hill in the world. In fact, just 31competitors crossed the finish line without crashing or receiving a disqualification.
"It was tough, but, I think, generally a good performance." "It was a pretty successful day. I think it should be a boost for all of the guys goinginto tomorrow. They've got some points and they can probably be a little bit more aggressive tomorrow going in with some confidence."
The downhill race takes place Saturday on the Hahnenkahm, with Fiala, Fleischer, Miller, Puckett and Rahlves competing. The weekendconcludes Sunday with a slalom race.
CAFÉ DE COLOMBIA WORLD CUP Kitzbuehel, Austria
Jan. 19, 2001
1. Hermann Maier (Austria), 1:21.72
2. Josef Strobl (Austria)), 1:22.67
3. Werner Franz (Austria), 1:22.89
4. Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), 1:23.10
5. Hannes Trinkl (Austria), 1:23.34
6. Marco Buechel (Lichtenstein), 1:23.37
7. Didier Cuche (Switzerland), 1:23.39
8. Kjetil Andre Aamodt (Norway), 1:23.59
9. Hans Knauss (Austria), 1:23.80
10. Christoph Gruber (Austria), 1:23.81
11. Stephan Eberharter (Austria), 1:24.09
12. Silvano Beltrametti (Switzerland), 1:24.13
13. Alessandro Fattori (Italy), 1:24.21
14. Kenneth Silvertsen (Norway), 1:24.36
15. Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin (France), 1:24.65
16. Casey Puckett (Aspen, Colo.), 1:25.12
17. Sebastien Fournier (France), 1:25.16
18. Gregor Sparovec (Slovenia), 1:25.17
19. Patrice Manuel (France), 1:25.21
20. Juergen Hasler (Lichtenstein), 1:25.39
21. Jernej Koblar (Slovenia), 1:25.65
22. Frederic Covili (France), 1:26.06
23. Luca Cattaneo (Italy), 1:26.14
24. Peter Pen (Slovenia), 1:26.16
25. Markus Herrmann (Switzerland), 1:26.24
26. Jakub Fiala (Breckenridge, CO), 1:26.56
27. Audun Groenvold (Norway), 1:26.68
28. Thomas Vonn (Newburgh, NY), 1:26.77
29. Erik Seletto (Italy), 1:26.94
30. Kurt Sulzenbacher (Italy), 1:27.67
31. Jernej Rebersak (Slovenia), 1:28.10
DNF Bode Miller (Franconia, NH)
DQ Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO)