Benni Raich wins Kranjska Gora GS; Miller loses ski on second run


Benni Raich wins Kranjska Gora GS; Miller loses ski on second run{mosimage}KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia – Benjamin Raich led a 1-2 Austrian finish Saturday in a giant slalom and drew closer to overall World Cup leader Bode Miller, who lost a ski during the second run and slid off the course.

Raich was followed by Hermann Maier and Kalle Palander of Finland. Daron Rahlves of the United States was fifth.

“It’s a big victory for me here,” Raich said. “Bode went out, but you never hope the opposition will go out.”

Miller lost a ski while in the lead at the first split of the final run, giving up valuable points in his bid to become the first American to win the overall title in 22 years. His lead over Raich has been cut to 91 points with seven races to go.

Raich covered the icy Podkoren course in a combined time of 2 minutes, 43.73 seconds. Maier, the reigning giant slalom world champion, was 0.45 seconds behind. Palander, the first-leg leader, was 0.79 seconds off the winning time.

Miller of Franconia, N.H., led by 0.32 seconds at the first interval before his right leg went wide on a turn and his ski became dislodged after slamming into a bump. He continued skiing down several gates then stopped at the side fencing, looking at the sky in disgust and disbelief.

“It was a really hard hit,” said U.S. ski team spokesman Marc Habermann. “It shouldn’t happen, but it does happen and skis can come off.”

“Bode skied a straight line, but it was bumpy out there and he skied right into a hole,” Habermann added. “He wanted to keep skiing but it was no use.”

Conditions were close to ideal with softly sprinkling snow causing only minor visibility problems on a mostly sun-flushed course.

Palander was the first skier out of the hut and carved a 0.28-second lead on the first run. But the Finn lost his cushion midway through the second run, and his shot at his first title of the season faded.

This was Raich’s first giant slalom title this season after two top-three World Cup finishes and a silver at the world championship this month. Raich, a technical specialist who won on this course three years ago, took over the lead in the giant slalom standings.

Phil Mahre is the only American to have won the overall title, doing so in three consecutive years from 1981. Miller is in front with 1,253 points, followed by Raich at 1,162. Of the seven races left, three are technical events. But Raich doesn’t want to start calculating.

“To think of that tactically will never work,” Raich said. “I will race to win every race I enter. It’s pretty close, but Bode has an advantage as he is very strong in the downhill and there are more speed events to go.”

-The Associated Press

World Cup

Men’s Giant Slalom
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Feb. 26, 2005

1. Benjamin Raich, AUT 2:24.73
2. Hermann Maier, AUT 2:25.18
3. Kalle Palander, FIN 2:25.52
4. Massimiliano Blardone, ITA 2:25.66
5. Daron Rahlves, USA 2:25.82
6. Thomas Grandi, CAN 2:25.89
7. Davide Simoncelli, ITA 2:26.10
8. Manfred Moelgg, ITA 2:26.13
9. Fredrik Nyberg, SWE 2:26.17
10. Stephan Goergl, AUT 2:26.65
11. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 2:26.67
12. Lasse Kjus, NOR 2:26.75
13. Lucas Senoner, ITA 2:27.40
14. Andreas Schifferer, AUT 2:27.56
15. Ales Gorza, SLO 2:27.65
16. Truls Ove Karlsen, NOR 2:27.66
17. Didier Defago, SUI 2:27.92
18. Alberto Schieppati, ITA 2:28.02
18. Marco Buechel, LIE 2:28.02
20. Niklas Rainer, SWE 2:28.09
21. Sami Uotila, FIN 2:28.20
22. Francois Bourque, CAN 2:28.29
23. Thomas Fanara, FRA 2:28.32
24. James Cochran, USA 2:28.41
25. Bjarne Solbakken, NOR 2:28.55
26. Erik Schlopy, USA 2:28.84
27. Dane Spencer, USA 2:29.14
other North Americans:
DNF 2nd: Bode Miller, USA.
DNQ 2nd: Ryan Semple, CAN; Chip Knight, Jake Zamansky, USA

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

equipment
Men’s GS, Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Feb. 26, 2005
Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Maier, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Palander, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Blardone, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5 Rahlves, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Grandi, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Simoncelli, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
8 Moelgg, Fischer/Lange/Look
9 Nyberg, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
10 Goergl, Fischer/Lange/Fischer

Men’s GS, Kranjska Gora, Feb. 26, 2005. … It is the 29th of a 35 race two combined men’s World Cup schedule. … It is the 8th of nine scheduled GS’s. … It is the 25th Cup GS at held at Kranjska Gora. … The winning margin is .45 of a second. … The top 4 finishers are within the same second.

It is the 16th career World Cup win for Benjamin Raich. … His 6th in GS. … It is his third win of the season (plus two gold medals at World Championships). … His first in GS this season. … His three wins this season have come in different disciplines (sl 12/5 Beaver Creek, cmb 1/14/Wengen and GS Kranjska Gora). … He has scored in 25 of the 29 men’s Cup races held this season with nine podiums and 18 top 10′s. … It is his 2nd GS win at Kranjska Gora. … It is his fifth podium at Kransjka Gora dating to 12/21/99.

It is the 86th career World Cup podium for Hermann Maier. … His 27th in GS. … It is his eighth podium of the season (plus a gold medal in GS at the World Championships). … His fourth Cup GS podium of the season. … It is his second podium at Kransjka Gora, the first from 1/3/98 GS when he as also 2nd.

It is the 18th career podium for Kalle Palander. … the third in GS. … It is his fourth podium of the season. … All four are third place results, and 3 of the 4 are in GS. …

It is the 33rd career top 5 Cup result for Daron Rahlves. … His ninth of the season, plus a silver and bronze medal from World Championships and a 4th in the team competition. … He has been 5th seven times this season. … It matches his career best Cup GS result. … It is the 10th top 6 career Cup result for Thomas Grandi. … Four of those have come this season. … It is the sixth career scoring result for Francois Bourque. … Five are from this season. … It is the second career scoring result for James Cochran, the previous coming 12/19 at AltaBadia. … It is the 51st career Cup scoring result for Erik Schlopy. … Seven from this season. … It is the 22nd career Cup scoring result for Dane Spencer. … Seven from this season.

Bode Miller (2nd run DNF) maintains the overall lead 1253-1162 for Raich with 7 races remaining (2DH, 2SG, 2SL, 1GS). … Hermann Maier is third at 958. … Next best American is Daron Rahlves in 5th at 691. … Top Canadian is Thomas Grandi in 8th at 469. … Raich leads the GS standings 363-342 for Grandi. … Miller is third at 340. … Others not mathmatically eliminated from winning the GS title (with one GS remaining) include Massimiliano Blardone (4th in race) at 316, Maier at 312 and Kalle Palander at 266. Rahlves is next American on list at 13th with 138.

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