Mon, Dec 20, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Weather rules the slopes in Europe to give Rauffer a win

AP , Val Gardena, Italy

Max Rauffer was not interested in debating whether the windy conditions played a part in his first World Cup victory -- or the poor results posted by each of the race favorites.

By winning Saturday's downhill on a wind-shortened course, Rauffer became the first German man to post an Alpine victory in nearly 13 years.

"I skied a very clean, aggressive run. I couldn't tell if I was helped by the wind," the laid-back Bavarian said. "It's difficult to know if there is a tail wind. I just want to enjoy this moment.

Rauffer covered the classic Saslong course in 1 minute, 50.59 seconds. Juerg Gruenenfelder of Switzerland finished only 0.05 seconds behind for his first podium finish, and up-and-coming Austrian Johann Grugger was third, 0.13 seconds back.

Gruenenfelder broke his knee cap four years ago and missed the next two years before returning to action last season.

Women's Downhill


A women's World Cup downhill scheduled for today was threatened by another 40cm of snow and more high winds forecasted overnight, officials announced.

After a snow storm and high winds forced the cancellation of a first downhill yesterday, organizers said more bad weather descending on the classic French resort would likely wipe out the second race planned for today.

Winds of up to 150kph the previous night created dangerous snow drifts that buried the safety netting on the course. Sixty people were working frantically to fix the so-called A-netting, the first safety barrier a skier hits when careening off course.

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