Hermann Maier wins world championship giant slalom; Daron Rahlves third


Hermann Maier wins world championship giant slalom; Daron Rahlves thirdHermann Maier has won the world championship giant slalom, marking another emotional milestone for the resilient Austrian who nearly lost his leg in a 2001 motorcycle accident.

“This is a very important victory for me, especially on this course which is very, very difficult,” said Maier. “Daron was super on the first run and I knew he had six-tenths of a second, so I had to be very good on my second run.”

It is Maier’s first world championship title in six years. It is also the first for Austria in giant slalom since 1991, when Rudi Nierlich won at Saalbach.

Benjamin Raich of Austria was second and Daron Rahlves of California was third.

“I’m certainly happy to get a medal but I’m still disappointed,” said Rahlves. “I knew I’d have to go for it but I was too round, too loose at the top.”

Rahlves led the race after the first run, but on the second run made a small mistake that cost him dearly since it came before a long flat section, where his low speed was a compounding problem.

“But the best thing for me today is to know my GS is there,” said the Californian. “But it’s also really disappointing not to have the downhill gold medal.”

Rahlves says the key to his success on the first run (which he won by 0.60 seconds) was the transitions. “On a hill like that, where you go steep to flat, the key is the transitions,” said Rahlves. “That’s where the race is won.”

The defending titlist in this event, Bode Miller of Franconia, New Hampshire, crashed on the first run after hitting a rock, which ripped the metal edge from his ski. He tumbled into a fence, and needed two stitches on his chin.

“He didn’t just fold the edge over, he pulled it right out of the ski,” said John McBride, the head speed coach for the U.S. men’s team. “It was on the inside edge of his right ski…He got back on his heels to try to get edge on that ski, and he hooked up hard. The truth is there’s quite a few scattered around on the hill.”

The other North Americans…
It is the sixth medal for the U.S. Ski Team, which announced a goal of eight medals here at the start of the season. There are two individual races left (men’s and women’s slalom), along with the experimental Nation’s Cup.

Jimmy Cochran finished 16th, powering through the race from the 33rd start position. It was an emotional sight for those aware that his grandmother’s memorial service is taking place today.

Erik Schlopy had a lackluster day, but veteran Dane Spencer was excellent, turning in a career-best seventh-place finish. “I went for it,” said Spencer. “I was psyched to be in there.”

Spencer said it was a difficult hill. “It’s designed for downhill. This bottom pitch is wavy, with sidehills. It makes it challenging for GS. It makes it really tiring down here.”

The Canadians seemed in reach of their first medal at this event after the first run, but then disaster struck on the second run. J.P. Roy was sitting in third after the first run. But Roy crashed on the second run as his knee buckled inwards (the leader at that point, Benni Raich, grimaced with sympathetic pain as he watched it on the giant screen in the finish). According to a team press release, Roy has injured his MCL, and is flying home to Canada, where doctors will “assess whether any damage has been made to his ACL and meniscus.”

“It was hard for me to watch,” said Thomas Grandi, of Banff, Alberta, who finished fifth. “A race is a race, and crashing is part of the game, but injuries are not good.”

Grandi finished fifth in the race, largely on the strength of the third-fastest second run. “If you look at the podium, all three of those guys skied the super G and the downhill. It’s not a fluke. It helps to be on the hill and to get to know the snow and the terrain.”

World Ski Championships

Men’s Giant Slalom
Bormio, Italy
Feb. 10, 2005

1. Hermann Maier, AUT 2:50.41
2. Benjamin Raich, AUT 2:50.66
3. Daron Rahlves, USA 2:51.09
4. Kalle Palander, FIN 2:51.45
5. Thomas Grandi, CAN 2:51.82
6. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 2:51.99
7. Dane Spencer, USA 2:52.03
8. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT 2:52.47
9. Fredrik Nyberg, SWE 2:52.90
10. Bruno Kernen, SUI 2:53.00
11. Bjarne Solbakken, NOR 2:53.17
12. Didier Defago, SUI 2:53.21
13. Manfred Moelgg, ITA 2:53.35
14. Niklas Rainer, SWE 2:53.61
15. Ryan Semple, CAN 2:53.93
16. James Cochran, USA 2:53.98
17. Erik Schlopy, USA 2:54.06
18. Ales Gorza, SLO 2:5412
19. Freddy Rech, FRA 2:54.41
20. Massimiliano Blardone, ITA 2:54.47
21. Mitja Valencic, SLO 2:54.83
22. Bernard Vajdic, SLO 2:55.22
23. Cristian Simari Birkner, ARG 2:55.22
24. Ondrej Bank, CZE 2:55.60
25. Jouni Kaitala, FIN 2:55.70
26. Dalsuke Yoshioka, USA 2:55.98
27. Dmitrij Ulianov, RUS 2:56.81
28. Pavel Chestakov, RUS 2:56.81
29. Filip Trejbal, CZE 2:57.27
30. Daniel Albrecht, SUI 2:57.32
other North Americans:
60. Hubertus VonHohenlohe, MEX 3:27.39
DNF 1st: Bode Miller, USA; Francois Bourque, CAN.
DNF 2nd: Jean-Philippe Roy, CAN.

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

equipment
World Championship men’s GS, Bormio, Feb. 10, 2005
Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Maier, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Rahlves, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Palander, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Grandi, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
6 Svindal, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7 Spencer, Elan
8 Schoenfelder, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
9 Nyberg, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
10 Kernen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol

It is the eighth race of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. … The fourth men’s race. … The race was delayed a day by a television workers strike. … Winning margin is .25 of a second. … Only the podium skiers were within the same second. … It is a long race with more time on course than any Worlds GS since 1978.

It is the third World Championship for Hermann Maier. … His first since 1999 at Beaver Creek where he won two, (sg 2/2/99 & dh 2/6/99). … He has 6 World Championship medals including the wins, two silver (dh 2/7/01, sg 2/2/03) and one bronze (sg 1/30/01). … He has also been fourth twice. … It is his first medal of these championships. … It is his first GS medal at Worlds. … It is his second win of the season, having claimed the Kitzbuehel SG 1/24.

It is the fourth World Champiomnship medal for Benjamin Raich. … His third at these championships. … He won gold in combined, and bronze in SG. … He also has a silver medal in slalom from St Anton 2/10/2001. … In seven World Championship races he has completed he has no finish worse than 9th and just one worse than 5th. … Including World Cup races, he has 11 podiums (in 24 completed races) this season.

It is the third World Championship medal for Daron Rahlves. … The second of these championships. … He also won the silver medal in DH 2/5. … He won the gold medal in SG at St Anton 1/30/2001. … He is tied with Picabo Street, Cindy Nelson, and Billy Kidd for fourth on the list of U.S. World Championship medal winners. … Tamara McKinney, Bode Miller and Christin Cooper have more. … Rahlves has two second place finishes on the World Cup this season as well.

It is the career best World Championship result for Thomas Grandi and his third top 10 finish. … It is the best GS result at Worlds for a Canadian male. … It is the first top 10 result of Dane Spencer’s career, World Championships, Olympics or World Cup. … It is the 10th best GS result at Worlds by an American male. … It is the second Worlds result for Ryan Semple. … He was 33rd at St
Moritz slalom 2/16/2003. … It is the first World Championship result for James Cochran.

Austria has accumulated eight medals (2g, 2s, 4b); Croatia two (2g); Finland one (g); Italy three (2s, 1b); Norway one (s); Sweden two (2g); and the U.S. six (2g, 1s, 3b).

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