St. Anton, Austria, Feb. 8, 2001--Swiss giant slalom star Michael Von Gruenigen overcame deteriorating conditions on his second run Thursday towin his second World Championships GS title.
Von Gruenigen, who has 19 World Cup victories in GS - including three this season, was tied with Austrian Hermann Maier for fourth after the firstrun behind Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway; he finished with a two-run time of 2:23.80. VonGruenigen won his first Worlds gold medal in GS at the'97 championships in Sestriere, Italy.
Aamodt, the combined champion earlier this week, was the silver medalist in 2:24.15 and Frenchman Fredric Covili was third (2:24.18).
Completing the top five in 40-degree weather: Maier, the '99 GS champion, in fourth place by one-hundredth of a second and Italy's MassimillianoBlardone fifth in 2:24.64.
Top American was Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), the world super G champion, who finished 19th in 2:27.82 and Casey Puckett (Aspen, CO)was 23rd in 2:32.44. Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) fell about four gates into his first run.
"I had a solid first run 16th but I struggled on the second run," Rahlves said. "I haven't skied a lot of GS and I was losing it all the way down...butthese have been great championships and I'm really happy with the way I'm skiing in downhill and super G."
Schlopy, who has had five World Cup top-10s in GS - including his first podium, never got started. As he came into a righthand turn, his right skislid under his left and his day was over. He had drawn bib No. 1 in a random draw for starters.
"I'm normally following someone down the course. I don't usually have no tracks to follow," he said. "I think I may've gotten too amped and I justwent too straight."
The men's schedule at the 2001 championships concludes Saturday with slalom. The women's schedule finishes Friday with GS.
2001 WORLD ALPINE CHAMPIONSHIPS
St. Anton, AUT - Feb. 8
Men's Giant Slalom
1. Michael Von Gruenigen, Switzerland, 2:23.80
2. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 2:24.15
3. Fredric Covili, France, 2:24.18
4. Hermann Maier, Austria, 2:24.19
5. Massimilliano Blardone, Italy, 2:24.64
19. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA, 2:27.82
23. Casey Puckett, Aspen, CO., 2:32.44
Did not finish: Erik Schlopy, Park City, UT