ARE, Sweden-March 10, 2001(FIS)-- Austrian great Hermann Maier hung up some more big numbers Saturday at World Cup Finals, winning the final giant slalom of the season with Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) on his tail, finishing second for the second podium of Schlopy's career.
Switzerland's Sonja Nef won the women's slalom with Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) the only American to finish as she came in12th. Croatian Janica Kostelic - who had been unbeaten after eightslaloms this season but faces knee surgery next week - was 11th and leads defending overall champion Renate Goetschl of Austria by 67 points going into the final race of the season Sunday, the GS.
Outdoor Life Network will broadcast same-day coverage of the men's GS at 7 EST tonight with repeats at10 p.m. and 1 a.m. plus women's SL coverage at 9 p.m. and a repeat at midnight.
Maier, who led the first run by .27 over GS world champion Michael Von Gruenigen of Switzerland, won the 41st race of his career and his record-tying 13th of the season (to equal Ingemar Stenmark'sperformance during the 1979 season). That also enabled Maier, who doesn't ski slalom except in combined events, to successfully defend the fourth of his four World Cup titles from last season as he pulled past Von Gruenigen in the final standings by 10 points.
The winning time was 2:31.23 with Schlopy - starting fourth and finishing third in the first run - runnerup in 2:32.37. Benni Raich of Austria was third in 2:32.51. Von Gruenigen went down a half-dozen gates from the finish of his second run but got up and scrambled over the finish and still finished fourth (2:32.83).
Second 2nd for Schlopy
"It's great," said U.S. Head Coach Bill Egan. "He had a good first run and even though he didn't ski the top extremely well on his second run he still had a good one. We're really excited for him."
Schlopy is 15th for the season and his podium, which followed his second-place result behind Christoph Gruber of Austria in the Bormio GS before Christmas, boosted him past the elite 400-point level for the season. He stands third - behind Maier andVon Gruenigen - in GS, 20th in slalom. It's the first time a U.S. skier has been top-3 in GS since 1983 when Phil Mahre edged Stenmark for both the World Cup overall and GS titles (and points were given to just the top 15 skiers).
"This is great. My goal had been for the season had been to be top 15 and now, to be second behind Hermann Maier and to be third overallin GS is very special," Schlopy said. "When I have one of these special days, my body knows it and I can go fast, I can be on the podium...
"I still have some technique to work on, but I keep progressing, keep making improvements," he said.
Capaul: "We missed a chance..."
In the women's race, Nef took the first-run lead and went on to win in 1:50.38 with Germany's Martina Ertl second, .4 back. Kostelic - who came back from knee surgery in December 1999 and is battling gamely on a knee with torn meniscus that faces surgery in a few days - was 11th; she leads defending overall champion Renate Goetschl of Austria, who was a DNF in the first run, by 67 points before Sunday's GS, which ends of the World Cup season.
Koznick was 12th in 1:51.91 while Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) and Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) fell in the midsection of thecourse.
"We missed a chance for some good points," said U.S. Coach George Capaul. "Only 17 girls made it through the first run and points only go for top-15 finishes at Finals...but Sarah, who had been training so fast and is confident and happy, leaned-in and fell, and 'Liner' hasn'treally been skiing much slalom - because of the torque - since hurting her left knee in GS training at Worlds, and she went downmidway, too. We were going for the podium, not just top-15, and Sarah's going to be after it Sunday in GS, too."
CAFE de COLOMBIA WORLD CUP
World Cup Finals
Are, SWE - March 10
1. Hermann Maier, Austria, 2:31.33
2. Erik Schlopy, Park City, Utah 2:32.37
3. Benni Raich, Austria, 2:32.51
4. Michael Von Gruenigen, Switzerland, 2:32.83
5. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 2:33.10
Cafe de Colombia World Cup Men's Overall (1 race left) 1. Maier - 1,618 points
2. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 875
3. Kjus, 848
4. Raich, 765
5. Von Gruenigen, 743
15. Schlopy, 434
28. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif., 255
40. Bode Miller, Franconia,N.H., 185
46. Chad Fleischer, Vail, Colo., 145
63. Casey Puckett, Aspen, Colo., 85
119. Chris Puckett, Boulder, Colo., 14
125. Thomas Vonn. Newburgh, N.Y., 12
127. Dane Spencer, Boise, Idaho, and Sacha Gros, Vail, Colo., 11 each
134. Jake Fiala, Frisco, Colo., 5
139. Brett Fischer, Winter Park, Colo., 2
Giant Slalom - Final
1. Maier, 622
2. Von Gruenigen, 612
3. Schlopy, 350
15. Miller, 158
38. Rahlves, 36
44. Casey Puckett, 18
1. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 1:50.38
2. Martina Ertl, Germany, 1:50.78
3. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 1:50.79 4. Laura Pequegnot, France, 1:50.84
5. Hedda Berntsen, Norway, 1:50.94
12. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, Minn., 1:51.91
Cafe de Colombia World Cup Women's Overall (1 race left)
1. Janica Kostelic, Croatia 1,256 points
2. Renate Goetschl, Austria - 1,189
3. Regine Cavagnoud, France - 1,087
4. Nef, 960
5. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 923
16. Koznick, 371
22. Sarah Schleper, 316
24. Lalive, 309
28. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, Maine, 285
31. Megan Gerety, Anchorage, Alaska, 271
37. Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, Calif., 190
67. Alison Powers, Winter Park, Colo., 61
68. Picabo Street, Park City, Utah, 59
113. Julia Mancuso, Tahoe City, Calif., 9
Copyright 2001 U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association All rights reserved