Wengen, Switzerland Jan. 12, 2002 (USSA)--World Cup leader Stephan Eberharter led an Austrian invasion into the top spots Saturday at the heralded Lauberhorn, one of downhill ski racing's premier events, winning in 2:28.41 with teammates Hannes Trinkl second and Josef (Pepi) Strobl third. Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) was top American, finishing ninth.
Outdoor Life Network will televise coverage of the Lauberhorn Monday night at 8 EST.
In the longest downhill of the Cafe de Colombia tour, Eberharter started second on a day in which only one of the top 20 came from outside the first 30 racers, and finished the 4.45-km course in 2:28.41. World champion Hannes Trinkl -- racing for the first time since a leg injury in November -- was second in 2:28.67 with Josef (Pepi) Strobl, who won the last DH in Wengen two years ago, completing the podium in 2:28.86. Austrians also were 5-6-7.
The top American was Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), who finished ninth -- his second top-10 of the season, following a sixth in Bormio, Italy, two weeks ago. Rahlves was timed in 2:30.72. Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) was 44th with Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) 45th and Casey Puckett (Aspen, CO) disqualified. Miller and Puckett were looking to position themselves for the first combined calculation of the season, blending Saturday's downhill with a slalom Sunday.
"Daron's best section was the bottom; he was fourth in the last section," said Coach Dale Stephens. "The rest was okay, not great but okay. It definitely could've been better. The conditions were good and to have three training runs plus a race on this hill, or any time, were outstanding."
Sullivan, in his first full season on the World Cup, "made progress all week but just didn't bring it into today. He made a bad mistake at one point and that really cost him. There's a big righthander turn and then right back into a big lefthander -- it's a real quick move -- and Marco got a little stuck making the switch. But he showed good progress through the week, and he's learning, which is why he's here."
In a related development, Stephens said veteran Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO) was expected to fly home in a few days after injuring his right knee in a training crash Thursday. Fleischer, who was bidding for his third Olympics, is done for the season after tearing ligaments, but the coach it may not be as bad as originally felt. He'll fly to the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail for further examination surgery.
The Lauberhorn Weekend concludes Sunday with the slalom and the tour heads to Kitzbuehel, Austria, for the annual Hahnenkamm downhill.