Kvitfjell, Norway, Mar. 3. 2001--Austrian Stephan Eberharter won the downhill race Saturday, but teammateHermann Maier clinched his second straight World Cup overall title - and the third of his career - and DaronRahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), racing in the newly arrived, tighter racing bibs that came in shortly before the race,was ninth.
Eberharter, who won the first downhill of the season at Lake Louise, zipped over the 1994 Olympic course in1:45.17 and regained the World Cup DH lead from Maier with one downhill remaining - next week at WorldCup Finals in Are, Sweden. Florian Eckert of Germany, who won the bronze medal in DH at the recent WorldChampionships before he'd ever posted a top-10 finish, was second for the second day in a row; his timewas 1:45.26 with Austrian Fritz Strobl third in 1:45.42.
Fourth place went to Franco Cavegn of Switzerland with Maier fifth. Lasse Kjus of Norway, the only athlete witha chance to overtake Maier, was 11th, which meant Maier clinched the overall title. He leads Kjus by morethan 500 points with five races left on the schedule.
For the U.S., Rahlves - looking to make up for Friday's disqualification because he had tied a knot in the backof the oversized, flowing race bibs for the first downhill - was ninth with a time of 1:45.70. Chris Puckett(Boulder, CO) was 38th and Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO) was disqualified after missing a gate early in the race.
"This was tight," said DH/SG Head Coach Dale Stephens. "Daron's a little disappointed, but a couple oftenths and he'd've been right in there. He had an okay run, but he didn't have any great sections - he was sixthhere, eighth there - and that was the difference. I think he was a little excited - that's understandable afterFriday - and he's very popular over here; there were a lot of banners for him and that may've contributed, too,as one more distraction. You can talk about not getting amped, but it's easier said than done.
"This isn't a great course for Chris. He's a good glider but there aren't a lot of flats here and the snow washard, so..."
New, tighter bibs
After Friday's controversy concerning the billowing race bibs, a shipment of the more standard, fitted bibsarrived Saturday morning and skiers competed in them without incident.
The men race super G Sunday with four entries - Rahlves, Fleischer, Puckett and his younger brother, Chris.Rahlves, who has four top-5s in Kvitfjell, is looking to pickup 145 points between Sunday and thedownhill-super G Thursday and Friday at World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden; that would help him crack the elite400-point level for the second season in a row.
Rahlves and Fleischer will be racing at World Cup Finals, along with Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT). CaseyPuckett (Aspen, CO) is on the bubble for a spot in SG and solid result Sunday could move into the top 25, thecutoff to qualify for World Cup Finals. Schlopy has 354 points heading to Are, so strong results in slalom andGS could push him to 400, too.
CAFE de COLOMBIA WORLD CUP
Kvitfjell, NOR - March 3
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 1:45.17
2. Florian Eckert, Germany, 1:45.26
3. Fritz Strobl, Austria, 1:45.42
4. Franco Cavegn, Switzerland, 1:45.55
5. Hermann Maier, Austria, 1:45.61 9.Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA, 1:45.70
38. Chris Puckett, Boulder, CO, 1:48.08 Disqualified: Chad Fleischer, Vail, CO
Cafe de Colombia World Cup
Men's Overall (4 races remaining)
1. Maier - 1,318 points
2. Lasse Kjus, Norway- 753
3. Eberharter - 735
4. Benjamin Raich - 705
5. Heinz Schilcheger, Austria - 701
15. Erik Schlopy, Park City, UT, 354
24. Rahlves, 255
37. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 185
49. Fleischer, 85
60. Casey Puckett, Aspen, CO, 85
119. Chris Puckett, 14
124. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, NY, 12
126. (tie) Sacha Gros, Vail, CO, and Dane Spender, Boise, ID, 11 each
133. Jake FFiala, Frisco, CO, 5
138. Brett Fischer, Winter Park, CO, 2
Downhill (1 race remaining)
1. Eberharter, 482
2. Maier, 476
3. F. Strobl, 373
4. Hannes Trinkl, Austria, 277
5. Kjus, 265
15. Rahlves, 149
19. Fleischer, 98