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Hermann Maier wins season-opening men's giant slalom, passes Tomba

Hermann Maier wins season-opening men’s giant slalom, passes TombaAustria’s Hermann Maier edged reigning World Cup overall champion Bode Miller to win the men’s season-opening giant slalom Sunday, Oct. 23 and move into second place on the all-time winners list.

The four-time champion clocked an aggregate time of 2 minutes, 17.60 seconds to beat the American by 0.07. Maier was fifth in the first leg, while Miller placed first.

Click here for Skiracing.com’s behind-the-scenes notebook.

“This is a big joy for me,” Maier said. “I was sitting in second place and watching Bode’s run and I thought to myself second place will be great. Then I saw his time was in red and I knew I had won. I flipped out.

“To be on the podium is already a big achievement, but it’s incredible to win this race.”

It was Maier’s first World Cup giant slalom win since a motorcycle accident nearly cost him a leg in 2001, although he won the world championship title in winter. The accident causes Maier problems in the twisty giant slalom, which puts more pressure on his leg, badly broken at the top of his boot.

“I never thought I could win again here on such a difficult course, which is why it means so much to me,” said Maier, who injured his knee during recent training in New Zealand. “I was not sure about coming here, how well I’d be skiing and able to handle it.”

With 51 World Cup wins, he overtook Italy’s Alberto Tomba. Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark is first with 86 wins, all in slalom and giant slalom.

Maier is also the only skier to win four season openers. He has won openers here and also won the first race of Tignes, France, in the 1999-2000 season.

Miller had been leading by .98 until halfway down the course, but he lost a full second on the bottom section after the sun went behind the clouds for the last four racers, leaving them with dark, flat light conditions.

“A little change in the light can make a giant difference in the time,” Miller said. “I had great tactics, but today I made a couple of big mistakes.”

Miller said he was inspired by the 32-year-old Maier’s performance.

“We expected him to be back in super G and downhill, because it suits his ability a little more now,” Miller said.

Austria’s Rainer Schoenfelder was third in 2:17.78 for his best giant slalom result.

Raich, who was runner-up to Miller in the overall standings last season, finished fourth in 2:18.37 — his best result in Soelden.

Two young North Americans started late but overcame chopped-up snow conditions to place in the top 10. Francois Bourque of Canada started 49th to finish fifth.

“Not so bad,” Bourque said. “I know I’ll be able to go faster.”

Ted Ligety of the United States began in 64th but finish eighth for his best World Cup giant slalom result. He posted the fastest second run.

“When you start 64th there are a lot of big holes. I’m definitely psyched by this result,” Ligety said.

The Scoop
By Hank McKee

Men’s Giant Slalom. Soelden Austria, Oct. 23, 2005. … It is the opening race of the men’s World Cup season, the first of eight scheduled GS races.

It is the 51st career win for Hermann Maier, moving him out of a tie with Alberto Tomba and into sole possession of second place among men all time for most victories. … Ingemar Stenmark’s 86 wins leads that category. … It is his 14th career GS win (fourth all-time behind Stenmark (46, Michael VonGruenigen (23) and Tomba (15). … It is his first GS win since Are on March 10, 2001. … Maier won at Soelden in 2000 and ’98. … He was 15th last season and 16th in ’03.

It is the 40th career podium for Bode Miller. … His 17th podium in GS. … Miller had won the last two GS races at Soelden, and was leading this one after the first run. …

It is the 17th career podium for Rainer Schoenfelder. … It is his first GS podium, the others all coming in slalom. … He was sixth at Soelden last season. …

It is the second top-five career result for Francois Bourque and his best in GS since a 22nd last season at Kranjska Gora. … His better result was a third at Garmisch in super G last season. … It is a career-best placing for Ted Ligety, his previous best a 10th in slalom at Kranjska Gora on Feb. 27, 2005. … This is his first GS score, the others all coming in slalom. … His first score was last season. … He started 64th in the race and had the fastest second run. …
It is the 24th career top 10 for Thomas Grandi, with more than half of those coming in the last two seasons. … He has been better at Soelden just once, last season, by one placing. …

The Austrian men jump out to a 300-112 point lead in Nations Cup standings over the United States … In combined gender standings the U.S. is fourth behind Austria, Sweden and Canada.

World Cup
Men’s Giant Slalom
Soelden, Austria
Oct. 23, 2005

1. Hermann Maier, AUT 2:17.60
2. Bode Miller, USA 2:17.67
3. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT 2:17.78
4. Benjamin Raich, AUT 2:18.37
5. Francois Bourque, CAN 2:18.42
6. Massimiliano Blardone, ITA 2:18.47
7. Fredrik Nyberg, SWE 2:18.62
8. Ted Ligety, USA 2:18.85
9. Thomas Grandi, CAN 2:18.84
10. Alberto Schieppati, ITA 2:18.87
11. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 2:18.94
12. Kalle Palander, FIN 2:18.98
13. Stephan Goergl, AUT 2:19.04
14. Mario Matt, AUT 2:19.10
15. Hannes Reichelt, AUT 2:19.32
16. Didier Defago, SUI 2:19.41
17. Christoph Gruber, AUT 2:19.56
18. Gauthier DeTessieres, FRA 2:19.64
19. Andreas Schifferer, AUT 2:19.78
20. Arnold Rieder, ITA 2:19.79
21. Michael Walchhofer, AUT 2:19.81
22. Bjarne Solbakken, NOR 2:19.82
23. Didier Cuche, SUI 2:19.98
24. Joel Chenal, FRA 2:20.09
25. Davide Simoncelli, ITA 2:20.22
26. Ales Gorza, SLO 2:21.00
27. Niklas Rainer, SWE 2:28.02
Other North Americans:
DNS 1st: Dane Spencer, USA.
DNF 1st: Daron Rahlves, USA.
DNQ 2nd: Erik Schlopy, James Cochran, Tom Rothrock, USA; Ryan Semple, John Kucera, Julien Cousineau, Brad Spence, CAN.

Men’s GS, Solden 10/23/2005

1 Maier, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Miller, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Schoenfelder, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
4 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Bourque, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
6 Blardone, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7 Nyberg, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
8 Ligety, Volkl/Nordica/Marker
9 Grandi, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
10 Schieppati, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol

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