Benni Raich wins world championship slalom; Four Americans DNF


Benni Raich wins world championship slalom; Four Americans DNFBenjamin Raich of Austria has won the world championship slalom, surviving soft-snow conditions that wiped out many of the top racers. It is Raich’s fourth medal in the four disciplines he started at this two-week event in Bormio. He also won gold in the combined.

“I knew I was in good shape before the world championship,” said Raich. “But I’ve been a little bit sick, so most of my energy is finished.”

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia (the reigning world champion before today) and Kalle Palander of Finland skied out on the same gate first run after a large hole developed in the track there.

“Everyone can see they should have prepared it better,” said Palander, who slammed his pole on a gate and cursed after blowing out. “There was no chance.”

Raich’s time was 1:41.34. Second place went to his teammate Rainer Schoenfelder (1:41.58), who prevented Atomic from sweeping every step of every men’s podium here in Bormio. Schoenfelder, who was reprimanded last year by his federation for testing positive for a banned stimulant, was last year’s World Cup slalom leader. “I am very happy about my performance today, because in many ways it was not 100 percent,” said Schoenfelder, who has not won a race yet this year. “Today makes everything okay.”

Third place went to Giorgio Rocca of Italy (1:42.08). A native of Livigno, Rocca was racing only 36 kilometers from his hometown. “I was not under pressure because the bronze medal from the combined was already in my pocket,” said Rocca.

Rocca said that staying at home and not coming to Bormio had saved him. “This was my secret,” he said. “It was very difficult. Many people stopped me on the street.”

Rocca wore a t-shirt that recognized the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was kidnapped earlier this week. “Giuliana, I am waiting for you,” is the rough translation of the message on his shirt.

Raich’s rival on the World Cup, Bode Miller, finished fourth with a conservative first run, but crashed on the second run. The three other American followed suit with DNFs (Erik Schlopy skied out on the first run, and Tom Rothrock and Ted Ligety both went out on the second run).

It was a banner day for the Canadians, who had three in the top 11. Patrick Biggs, formerly of Dartmouth College, was ninth after turning in the fastest second run.

“We’ve been training on fast, straight courses,” said Biggs. “It paid off. I worked out a couple things.”

Biggs said he wants to keep improving his start number so that he is the top 15 by the time the Olympics arrive in Torino next February.

A little controversy…
After the race, several nations complained that Austrian coaches had violated rules by working to repair the hole (only jury members and race organizers can alter the course).

“None of us on the jury could witness it,” said Gunther Hujara, the referee, at the team captains’ meeting a few hours after the race was over. “Who witnessed it?”

The Canadian speed coach, Burkhard Schaeffer, said he saw the Austrian coaches working on the hole. “As coaches they can’t change the condition of the course,” he said. “Two of the Austrian coaches shaved a bump off without the permission of the jury before the first run. You can’t do that.”

“I never interfered with anything during the race,” said Toni Giger, the head coach of the Austrian men’s team, who was accused of shoveling on the course even as officials told him to stop. “For me, when I see there is a hole I try to help.”

The FIS noted the dispute and said that it would be in the report.

World Ski Championships

Men’s Slalom
Bormio, Italy
Feb. 12, 2005

1. Benjamin Raich, AUT 1:41.34
2. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT 1:41.58
3. Giorgio Rocca, ITA 1:42.08
4. Markus Larsson, SWE 1:42.48
5. Andre Myhrer, SWE 1:42.72
6. Thomas Grandi, CAN 1:42.78
7. Silvan Zurbriggen, SUI 1:42.81
8. Mitja Dragsic, SLO 1:43.24
9. Patrick Biggs, CAN 1:43.38
10. Stephane Tissot, FRA 1:43.47
11. Michael Janyk, CAN 1:43.63
12. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 1:43.77
13. Jouni Kaitala, FIN 1:43.87
14. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, NOR 1:44.06
15. Mitja Valencic, SLO 1:44.56
16. Alain Baxter, GBR 1:44.67
17. Filip Trejbal, CZE 1:44.79
18. Naoki Yusasa, JPN 1:44.80
19. Felix Neureuther, GER 1:45.42
20. Rogier Oosterbaan, NED 1:46.97
21. Noel Baxter, GBR 1:47.19
22. Krystof Kryzl, CZE 1:47.92
23. Rishu Okada, JPN 1:48.38
24. James Leuzinger, GBR 1:48.54
25. Min heuk Kang, KOR 1:48.62
26. Martin Vrablik, CZE 1:49.80
27. Michal Kalwa, POL 1:50.11
28. Bjoergvin Bjoergvinsson, ISL 1:50.44
29. Jukka Leino, FIN 1:50.60
30. Stefan Georgiev, BUL 1:50.65
other North Americans:
DNF 1st: Erik Schlopy, USA.
DNF 2nd: Bode Miller, Tom Rothrock, Ted Ligety, USA; Ryan Semple, CAN; Hubertus VonHohenlohe, MEX.

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

equipment
World Championships, men’s Slalom, Bormio, Italy, Feb. 12, 2005
Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Schoenfelder, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
3 Rocca, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Larsson, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
5 Myhrer, Nordica//
6 Grandi, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Zurbriggen, Fischer/Lange/Tyrolia
8 Dragsic, Elan//
9 Biggs, Volkl/Nordica/Marker
10 Tissot, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol

It is the fifth and final race (excluding the new Team Event) of the 2005 FIS Alpine Ski World Championships. … The fifthl and final men’s event. … Winning margin is .24 of a second. … Just the podium skies are within the same second. … 10th place is more than two seconds out. … 20th more than five and a half seconds out.

It is the second career World Championship for Benjamin Raich and second of this championship. … He also won the combined 2/3. … It is his fifth Worlds medal. … And fourth of these championships: chronologically: 3rd sg 1/29, 1st cmb 2/3, 2nd gs 2/10 and 1st sl 2/12. … He has has a silver medal in sl from St Anton 2/10/01. … He has eight World Championship results, none worse than 9th. … Altogether this season Raich has four wins, 12 podiums and 20 top ten results.

It is the first World Championship medal for Rainer Schoenfelder. … He had been 4th in combined in 2001 in previous best effort. … It is his third podium of the season, all in slalom.

It is the third straight bronze medal for Giorgio Rocca; he also was third in combined 2/3 and in the St Moritz slalom 2/16/03. … It is his fifth podium of the season. … He is the only Italian male to claim a Worlds medal sincee Alberto Tomba, Sestriere, ’97.

It is the second top six result for Thomas Grandi in these championships. … It is the first world championship result for Patrick Biggs. … And for Michael Jaynk. … No Canadian group has previously put three skiers in the top 15 of a championship slalom.

Austria has 10 medals (2g, 3s,4b); Croatia three (3g); Czech Republic one (b); Finland two (2s); Italy 4 (2s,2b); Norway one (s); Sweden three (2g,1s); USA six (2g, 1s,3b). … It is a record number of medals for the U.S., … but not the most in percentage of available medals: 1982 five of possible 24 for 20.8%; 2005 six of possible 30 for 20%.

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