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Garmisch: Maier leads Austrian DH sweep; Nyman career-best fourth

Garmisch: Maier leads Austrian DH sweep; Nyman career-best fourthAustrians swept the Garmisch World Cup downhill Saturday, but they were the right Austrians, as far as Daron Rahlves is concerned.

The American finished 14th, but Fritz Strobl and Michael Walchhofer underperformed too, finishing in a tie for 10th. They are the two skiers leading Rahlves in the hunt for the downhill discipline title. There are two more downhills left.

Strobl raced with a special glove on his left hand, which he broke on the final traverse last week at Kitzbuehel.

Steve Nyman, the 2002 Sprint/Ski Racing Junior of the Year, was fourth. It is a career-best result for the Utah skier.

“I capitalized on my opportunity of an early starting spot on a course that hadn’t been tracked up,” Nyman told the USSA news service. “It was great to up there. Hopefully, I can keep things rolling until Torino.”

Nyman was nominated to the U.S. Olympic team on Wednesday. The result makes it nearly certain that he will compete in the men’s downhill in Sestriere on Feb. 12, the second day of Olympic competition.

Hermann Maier won the men’s downhill Saturday, covering the Kandahar course in 1 minute, 57.56 seconds.

The Austrian has won three races this season in three different disciplines. He is the only skier to have posted wins in at lease two disciplines this season after home victories in a super G in Kitzbuehel and a giant slalom in Soelden.

”At the second interval I was already so tired I was wondering what was going on,” Maier said. ”This race is one of the hardest I can remember. It was so fast and so bumpy, especially with a late start number the course was chopped up.

”I knew I had to be absolutely at the limit or this course would beat me. I had to take full risks and concentrate fully or it would master me.”

”What we saw today was the Hermann Maier of old,” said Austria’s race director Hans Pum, referring to the aggression Maier used to display in every race before the 2001 motorcycle accident that nearly cost him his life and his leg.

”I’ll never be the same, going to the full like before my accident,” Maier said. ”But in some passages I know I was really great. I still have the memories but to be as good as I once was, over the whole course, will never be possible again.”

Klaus Kroell improved his chances of being selected on the Austrian team for the Olympics, crossing second in 1:57.83.

”I knew with my early start number I would have an advantage and I thought to myself, ‘This is my chance for the Olympics,’ ” Kroell said. ”I was disappointed with my results the last couple of races, so I knew had to make the most of it.”

Andreas Buder, who is also fighting for the last Austrian berth at the Torino Games, finished third in 1:57.84.

Conditions were rugged at Garmisch, which Rahlves has called a “man’s downhill.” Peter Fill of Italy took a hard digger into the nets. Austrian Christoph Gruber, gunning for an Olympic position, averted disaster when his ski came off.

Gruber swung his left leg behind him so it wouldn’t smack the A-net at 110 kilometers per hour, and then touched his boot down to balance himself until it was safe to tumble, which he did.

It was the first time in 137 races that Bode Miller did not kick out of the start gate. The American’s streak ended at 136 on Tuesday when he decided to take a long-planned vacation.

Rahlves was fast in training but had a costly mistake on race day.

”I hit this one bump and got high-sided and I kind of went in there with way too much aggression today,” Rahlves said. ”Everything was pretty good in the top part, but as soon as I hit this one bump, it knocked me way down low and I just made it into the gate and after that all my speed was gone.”

Rahlves added that he would have been disappointed with a second place.

”I was out for the win,” he said. ”I dominated this thing in training yesterday and the day before that. But race day is the day you should step up. Not in training.”

– The Associated Press and USSA contributed to this report.

Men’s World Cup downhill results
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Results Saturday from a men’s World Cup downhill on the 3,455-meter (2.15-mile) Kandahar course:

1. Hermann Maier, Austria, 1 minute, 57.56 seconds.
2. Klaus Kroell, Austria, 1:57.83.
3. Andreas Buder, Austria, 1:57.84.
4. Steven Nyman, United States, 1:58.00.
5. Kjetil-Andre Aamodt, Norway, 1:58.10.
6. Bruno Kernen, Switzerland, 1:58.17.
(tie) Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 1:58.17.
8. Ambrosi Hoffmann, Switzerland, 1:58.33.
9. Didier Defago, Switzerland, 1:58.36.
10. Fritz Strobl, Austria, 1:58.54.
(tie) Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 1:58.54.
12. Kristian Ghedina, Italy, 1:58.66.
13. Andreas Schifferer, Austria, 1:58.69.
14. Daron Rahlves, United States, 1:58.84.
15. Kurt Sulzenbacher, Italy, 1:58.95.
16. Patrik Jaerbyn, Sweden, 1:58.97.
(tie) Yannick Bertrand, France, 1:58.97.
18. Scott Macartney, United States, 1:59.13.
19. Marco Sullivan, United States, 1:59.26.
20. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:59.38.
21. Stephan Keppler, Germany, 1:59.58.
22. Patrick Staudacher, Italy, 1:59.79.
23. Marc Bottolier-Lasquin, France, 1:59.84.
24. Juerg Gruenenfelder, Switzerland, 1:59.91.
25. Finlay Mickel, Britain, 2:00.01.
26. Roland Fischnaller, Italy, 2:00.10.
27. Walter Girardi, Italy, 2:00.25.
28. Andrej Jerman, Slovenia, 2:00.45.
29. Konrad Hari, Switzerland, 2:00.48.
30. Antoine Deneriaz, France, 2:00.49.
Did not finish: Christoph Gruber, Austria; Benjamin Raich, Austria.

Overall World Cup standings
(After 27 races)

1. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 952 points.
2. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 730.
3. Daron Rahlves, United States, 707.
4. Bode Miller, United States, 688.
5. Hermann Maier, Austria, 685.
6. Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway, 612.
7. Kalle Palander, Finland, 566.
8. Kjetil-Andre Aamodt, Norway, 543.
9. Giorgio Rocca, Italy, 536.
10. Fritz Strobl, Austria, 535.
11. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 532.
12. Erik Guay, Canada, 435.
13. Ted Ligety, United States, 403.
14. Peter Fill, Italy, 364.
15. Rainer Schoenfelder, Austria, 363.

Downhill standings
(After 8 races)

1. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 498.
2. Fritz Strobl, Austria, 441.
3. Daron Rahlves, United States, 408.
4. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 400.
5. Hermann Maier, Austria, 287.
6. Kjetil-Andre Aamodt, Norway, 282.
7. Bode Miller, United States, 260.
8. Bruno Kernen, Switzerland, 242.
9. Erik Guay, Canada, 221.
10. Klaus Kroell, Austria, 216.
11. Kristian Ghedina, Italy, 215.
12. Didier Defago, Switzerland, 201.
13. Johann Grugger, Austria, 166.
14. Andreas Buder, Austria, 133.
15. Ambrosi Hoffmann, Switzerland, 126.

By Hank McKee

Men’s downhill, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Jan. 28, 2006. … It is the 27th event of the men’s 34 race, four combined World Cup schedule. … It is the eighth of 10 scheduled downhills and the last before the Olympic Games. … It is the second of a three-race set at Garmisch. … It is the 31st World Cup DH at Garmisch.

It is the 53rd career World Cup win for Hermann Maier. … Second only to Ingemar Stenmark among men all-time. … It is his 15th career DH win. … Matching Franz Heinzer for fourth among men all time. … It is his fifth win at Garmisch and second DH win at Garmisch. … It is his third win of the season in three different disciplines. … He also won the GS at Soelden Oct. 23 and the SG at Kitzbuehel Jan. 20. … Austrian men have won the eight of the last nine Garmisch DHs.

It is the second career podium for Klaus Kroell, the other also a second place and also in DH – at Val d’Isere Dec. 14, 2002. … He has scored in sev
en DHs and one SG this season. … His previous best at Garmisch had been 10th, Jan. 30, 2004.

It is the first career podium for Andreas Buder. … His previous best an eighth at Kitzbuehel DH Jan 21, 2006. … It is the second podium sweep of the season for the Austrian men, the other at Val d’Isere DH Dec. 10.

It is the first trip inside the top five for Steven Nyman and 10 placings better than his previous best in DH. … His previous best result was sixth in combined at Kitzbuehel last week (Jan. 22). … Best previous in DH a 14th at Lake Louise on Nov. 26, 2005. … Nine of his 10 World Cup scores have come this season. … Daron Rahlves matches his fifth-best result of the season in DH. … His better DH results are all podiums. … He also finished 14th at Garmisch in 2004. … It is the fifth-best career result for Scott Macartney. … Second-best in DH behind 11th at Val Gardena earlier this season (Dec. 17). …Eight of his 14 career scoring finishes have come this season. … It is the eighth-best career DH finish for Marco Sullivan. … His third-best result of the season.

Benjamin Raich (DNF in race) maintains the World Cup overall standings lead 952-730 over Michael Walchhofer (10th in race). … Daron Rahlves is third at 707 and Bode Miller (did not race) is fourth at 688. … Walchhofer maintains the DH standings lead 498-441 over Fritz Strobl (tied with Walchhofer for 10th in race). … Rahlves is third at 408. … Winning margin is .27 of a second. … Third was another hundredth out. … Top 11 are within a second of the winner. … Top 20 within two seconds.

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