Beaver Creek, CO, Dec. 1, 2000--The top three spots went to Austrian skiers Friday in the final downhill training run before the Ernst &Young Birds of Prey World Cup race gets underway Saturday.
Werner Franz had the fastest time of the day with a 1:42.23. He was followed by teammates Hermann Maier (1:42.28) and Peter Rzehak(1:42.61).
Maier recorded the fastest time in Wednesday's opening training run. He has basically owned the difficult Birds of Prey course with sixcareer wins (the course only opened in '97), including three just last season.
The top American finisher was Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), who posted a 1:43.57 to finish 14th. Rahlves was the first Americanout of the start shack as well, dropping in seventh. Teammate Casey Puckett (Aspen, CO) followed Rahlves in 16th with a 1:43.63 out ofthe 60th start spot.
Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO), who was the fastest American in Wednesday's opener, finished in a tie for 65th with Australian Craig Branch(1:46.12).
The highlight of the day was Swiss skier Silvano Beltrametti's dramatic finish. He was having a solid run before one of his skis poppedoff two gates before the finish. Not only did he hold his one edge to make the final turn, he launched off the Red Tail jump, landed itcleanly and proceeded to cross the finish line on one ski. He ended up in 46th position with a 1:44.98.
Thursday's training run was canceled due to high winds and light fog on course. The wind blew gusts up to 60 mph near the start.
The Ernst & Young Birds of Prey downhill is slated for a 12:15 p.m. MST start Saturday. The weekend wraps up Sunday with a super G,also starting at 12:15 p.m. MST.
American Training Finishes
14. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA, 1:43.57
16. Casey Puckett, Aspen, CO, 1:43.63
23. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 1:44.13
25. Jakub Fiala, Breckenridge, CO, 1:44.19
29. Brett Fischer, Winter Park, CO, 1:44.45
36. Chris Puckett, Boulder, CO, 1:44.69
T65. Chad Fleischer, Vail, CO, 1:46.12