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Wild Weather Winds up Helping Dorfmeister

posted: 01/01/2000

Santa Caterina, Italy (AP by Howard Fendrich) --Too much snow, too little snow, heavy rain, whipping winds. The climate has been wreaking havoc with the World Cup schedule, but Michaela Dorfmeister isn't complaining.

The Austrian veteran credits the recent extended break between races with giving her time to work on her form in the speed events.

That extra training paid dividends in Santa Caterina, where Dorfmeister posted her best back-to-back showing in speed races this season to regain a stranglehold on the World Cup overall standings.

``The feeling is back in my legs in the speed events, I feel I can accelerate in the curves more,'' she said after comfortably winning Friday's super-G for her circuit-high fifth victory. ``I really could tell the snow (provided grip), so I knew I could push and try to win. I haven't had that feeling for some time.''

Dorfmeister's first four wins this season were all in the more technical giant slalom.

Coupled with her fifth-place performance in Thursday's downhill, the super-G triumph gave Dorfmeister 902 points in the overall standings, 100 more than countrywoman Renate Goetschl and 189 ahead of France's Regina Cavagnoud with a month left in the season.

Dorfmeister, a career-best sixth overall a year ago, saw her lead drop to a mere 55 points heading to Santa Caterina.

A slalom today closes three days of racing here, the first events since a Jan. 23 giant slalom in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. A super-G was canceled there because of gale-force winds, and two races scheduled in Zwiesel, Germany, a week later, were also scrapped.

The races in Santa Caterina were originally slated for Utah, but were moved because of a lack of snow on the mountain that will host Alpine skiing at the 2002 Olympics.

Dorfmeister said the gap in the calendar afforded the perfect opportunity to hone the pure speed that marked her career before this season. She even participated in the super-G at last week's Slovenian national championships to try to find her form.

Her sudden ability in giant slaloms _ the 26-year-old Dorfmeister had never finished higher than 10th in that discipline before the current World Cup campaign _ was as much of a shock as her sudden inability in the super-G.

Dorfmeister took the silver medal behind Picabo Street in the super-G at the 1998 Olympics, and won a silver in downhill and bronze in super-G at last year's World Championships. But she had managed no better than sixth place in a super-G this season before Friday.

With a time of 1 minute, 34.46 seconds, Dorfmeister trumped strong showings by the two women chasing her in the overall standings. Cavagnoud overcame a slight loss of balance near the top of the hill to finish second in 1:34.91, and Goetschl was timed in 1:35.19.

Only one other skier, Slovenia's Mojca Suhadolc, finished within a second of Dorfmeister, who benefited from having an early starting number on a day of steady snowfall.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press

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