Sun, Jan 16, 2005 - Page 22 News List

Raich closes in on Miller

WORLD CUP SKIINGBenjamin Raich of Austria gained 100 points on his fellow competitor and overall leader Bode Miller

AP , WENGEN, SWITZERLAND

Austrian ski racer Benjamin Raich is airborne over the Hundschopf jump during the men's World Cup Combined Downhill at the Lauberhorn in Wengen, Switzerland on Friday. Raich won the event, but American Bode Miller still leads in the standings.

PHOTO: EPA

Austrian Benjamin Raich won a trial super-combined race Friday to significantly close the gap on overall World Cup leader Bode Miller.

Raich posted the fastest time in the opening slalom portion and held on to his lead after the afternoon downhill, finishing in an aggregate time of 2 minutes, 28.37 seconds and gaining 100 points over the American, who went out in the slalom leg.

The Austrian is now just 198 points behind Miller, who leads the overall standings with 988.

"The fact that I'm less than 200 points behind Bode doesn't mean it's easier for me now," said Raich, a technical specialist who only seriously began competing the speed events last season. "Potentially Bode can win in every race. But it doesn't matter. I won't give up and I'll fight until the end."

Norwegian veteran Lasse Kjus, who won the traditional combined here in 1999, finished second, .32 seconds behind.

Kjus, a combined specialist who has won gold in the event at both the world championships and Olympics, praised the combined's revamped format.

The new event is composed of a downhill run and a slalom leg staged only a few hours apart on the same day. The traditional combined event added the times from the weekend's downhill to those of the weekend's slalom, as will be the case in Kitzbuehel next week.

"This new super-combi format is the only way to go," said Kjus, who arrived in the finish area to the sound of thousands of fans singing "Happy Birthday" in honor of his 34th. "I think it makes things more fair. Only one leg for the slalom skiers because it is so difficult for downhillers to make two good slalom runs. And a shorter downhill that makes it possible for the slalom skiers to complete OK."

Swiss Didier Defago finished third, 1.40 back, while another Norwegian, Kjetil Andre Aamodt, was fifth in 2:30.19.

ap, CORTINA D'AMPEZZO, Italy

Lindsey Kildow has reached the point where finishing second is not good enough.

Even with only one World Cup victory in her career, Kildow feels she should be winning. She was the runner-up in a super-G Friday.

"I've been really happy with my results so far, but I haven't been able to win," the 20-year-old American said. "I won the first race and now I'm not doing as well."

Since recording her first victory in the opening downhill of the season Dec. 3, at Lake Louise, Alberta, Kildow has finished second three times and third once.

She leads the downhill standings and is second in super-G.

Kildow nearly took the super-G lead, too, but she lost Friday's race to Austria's Renate Goetschl.

Goetschl, who also won Wednesday's super-G here, covered the sun-drenched Olympia delle Tofane course in 1 minute, 13.98 seconds. Kildow finished 0.08 seconds behind, and Austria's Silvia Berger was third, 0.73 back.

With two super-G races left this season, Goetschl leads the event's standings with 309 points to Kildow's 290.

Kildow raced before Goetschl and posted the fastest time to that point despite making a big error and nearly skiing off course at the beginning of her run.

ap, NOVE MESTO, Czech Republic

Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic claimed her 13th career World Cup victory and her second this season before a home crowd on Saturday.

Neumannova covered the 10km distance in freestyle in 26 minutes and 43.8 seconds, edging World Cup leader Marit Bjoergen of Norway by 7.7 seconds.

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