Mon, Feb 21, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Rok Benkovic leaps to big victory


Germany's Georg Hackl races to a second place finish in the men's luge during the World Championships at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah on Saturday.


Teenager Rok Benkovic kept his cool on the second leap Saturday in ski jumping and earned the first medal in Slovenian history at the Nordic Ski World Championships.

The 18-year-old student, who had never reached a podium at a World Cup, uncorked a 91m leap as the last jumper on the HS100 hill to seal the title.

Afterwards, he was mobbed by his Slovenian teammates.

"I was a little shaky. I just said to myself, `just like the first jump,'" Benkovic said.

Helped by a backwind, Benkovic took a big lead with the day's best jump of 101m. He finished with 256.0 points.

Jakub Janda of the Czech Republic claimed silver with 249.5, just edging World Cup leader Janne Ahonen at 249.0.

Benkovic's big first jump left him with a sizable five-point lead after the first round.

Andre Florschutz and Torsten Wustlich edged German teammates and defending champions Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch by .012 seconds to win the doubles at the Luge World Championships on Friday.

Sylke Otto led a German sweep for the sixth straight time in the women's competition.

"We have a lot of pressure because everybody expects one or two from us, but it's always a pleasure to stay on top," Florschutz said.

Americans Brian Martin and Mark Grimmette finished third in the doubles for the second straight year and were the only non-Germans on the podium.

Germany has won every women's world championship medal in the event since 1999, but another sweep was in jeopardy Friday night. Defending champion Silke Kraushaar was second after the opening run, but was disqualified for an equipment violation.

World sprint champion Erben Wennemars finished third in a 1,000m race Saturday to capture his third straight World Cup overall victory for the distance.

Jan Bos of the Netherlands and 2002 Olympic champion Gerard van Velde completed a Dutch sweep in the final men's 1,000m race of the World Cup season.

Bos won in 1:09.45, coming in 0.23 seconds ahead of Van Velde, while Wennemars clocked 1:09.81 for his third placing, which was enough to clinch the overall 1,000m title.

In the women's races, American Jennifer Rodriquez won the 1,000m to emerge as the favorite for in the single distance world championships in two weeks in Inzell, Germany. Germany's Sabine Volker was second in 1:16.41.

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