Sun, Jan 22, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Maier gets aggressive in Kitzbuehel

WORLD CUP Hermann Maier won a super-G event on the famed Hahnenkamm course in Austria as skiers get geared up for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy

AP , KITZBUEHEL, AUSTRIA

Hermann Maier of Austria on his way to winning a World Cup super-G event in Kitzbuehel, Austria on Friday.

PHOTO: EPA

Hermann Maier got a much-needed boost ahead of next month's Olympics.

The double Olympic champion won a super-G on the famed Hahnenkamm course Friday, defending his title from last year and getting his second victory of the season.

"This course was custom-made for me," Maier said. "There was a lot of snow in the last two days and it was hard for the skiers with high numbers, but I found the right balance between smooth and aggressive skiing.

"That was the key to winning today's race."

Reigning World Cup champion Bode Miller flew off course early -- another in a series of poor results for the American.

Maier, the 29th skier out of the hut, started aggressively on a sun-drenched course that was quickly deteriorating. He crossed the finish line in 1 minute, 22.97 seconds.

Peter Fill of Italy finished 0.05 seconds behind the leader, securing second and his best career result. Austria's Hannes Reichelt was third, 0.28 seconds off the pace.

The victory was Maier's fifth super-G title at Kitzbuehel, bringing his total at the most prestigious stop on the men's World Cup circuit to six. H also won a downhill in 2001.

"I like this hill. This is a very special hill for me," Maier said. "Every part, I had good times and the turn in the end is much like a downhill. I think I reached 128kph."

The win offered a well-deserved injection of confidence for the 33-year-old Maier going into next month's Olympics in Turin, Italy. The last time he had won a giant slalom was almost a year ago in Kvitfjell, Norway, while his only previous victory this season came in the opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.

"Yesterday, I thought two victories would be good," Maier said. "Now I have it, so I'm happy."

Miller, the reigning overall and super-G champion, went off course on a tricky turn in the top section and was forced to give up on a track that favored his risky style with no jumps until the end.

He also skied out at the last race, a super-combi in Wengen, Switzerland.

The disappointing result added to Miller's recent woes off the snow.

The outspoken American drew the ire of sponsors and fans with recent comments suggesting he had skied under the influence of alcohol. He made a public apology but was still trying to live down the aftereffects.

Fellow American Daron Rahlves finished sixth. He had a 0.12-second lead near the top but lost precious time in the later sections.

"It's OK, it's acceptable," Rahlves said.

US coach John McBride set the super-G course, but his skiers did not manage to turn it into an advantage.

"Coaches always hope that setting the course will help our guys, but we just did not perform well today," McBride said.

"Bode told me he had made a couple of mistakes early into the race, so he risked more. But he went off the line, where the snow was soft and bally," McBride added.

Super-G rankings leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was 14th.

Maier recovered from a spectacular downhill crash at the Olympics in Nagano in 1998 and came back to win the super-G gold medal a day later. On Friday, he had a 0.19 advantage at the top before increasing the lead to 0.21 in the midsection.

Maier pumped his fists in the air at the finish area in front of thousands of fans waving Austrian flags.

It was Fill's second straight podium finish and best career result. He finished third at the super-combi in Wengen last week.

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