Mon, Jan 23, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Dorfmeister wins mind game in downhill event

WINTER SPORTS Michaela Dorfmeister worked with a mental trainer to become better prepared for pressure

AP , ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLANDAP, KITZBUEHEL, AUSTRIAAP, SAPPORO, JAPANAP, OBERSTDORF. GERMANYAP, ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLANDAP, WINTE

Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria speeds down the course during a World Cup downhill race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Saturday. Dorfmeister won the event.

PHOTO: EPA

Positive thinking worked for Michaela Dorfmeister.

The Austrian, who is racing in her final season before retirement, credited her mental trainer on Saturday after winning a women's World Cup downhill -- a day after winning the super-G.

"I have been working a bit with my mind and with a special coach and what he taught me helps a lot," Dorfmeister said. "I had good thoughts at the start, I am thinking that most of time it doesn't matter what happens in the finish, life goes forward. Thinking this gives me less pressure."

Dorfmeister covered the 2,828m Corviglia course in 1 minute, 43.76 seconds for her first downhill victory this season and seventh of her career. The 32-year-old Austrian, who has 24 career World Cup wins, had four other podium finishes in downhill this season.

Teammate Renate Goetschl finished second in 1:43.83, finally breaking through a troublesome mental barrier of her own to claim her first podium result of the season. Overall World Cup leader Janica Kostelic, who recorded her first career downhill victory last week, placed third in 1:43.95.

Dorfmeister said the big change in her skiing came at last year's world championships in Bormio, Italy, where she failed to finish the downhill, super-G and giant slalom.

"There was so much pressure by myself and everyone else and I can't handle this by myself," Dorfmeister said. "It's not good for me so I made the decision never go to a ski coach for mental help. I said last season I will try a mental coach and see how it works."

Goetschl, the 2000 overall champion, had been unable to find her winning form this season.

The leaders were threatened by late skiers as conditions sped up. Swiss skiers Martina Schild, who started in 45th, placed fifth in 1:44.11, while Monika Dumermuth, who started 39th, finished sixth, only 0.42 behind.

Reigning overall champion Anja Paerson of Sweden placed seventh, 0.45 off the pace, while Lindsey Kildow, the winner of two downhills this season, finished out of contention in 17th after losing valuable time on the flats.

Dorfmeister leads the discipline standings with 412 points after six races. Kildow is second with 301 points, followed by Kostelic in third with 280. Dorfmeister also owns the discipline leader's red bibs in the super-G.

Kostelic broke the 1,000-point barrier in the overall standings, which she leads with 1,058 points. Dorfmeister, who overtook Paerson for second place after Friday's super-G, now has 930 points, while Paerson is third with 721.

Kildow was near tears in the finish area.

The American won back-to-back downhills in Lake Louise, Alberta, and Val d'Isere, France, but has stalled since. She finished ninth and 18th in last weekend's downhills in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria.

"Every race I'm losing time on the flats and it's not because I'm not a good glider," Kildow said. "It's really frustrating because it's not something I can fix. I can only ski my best and I am skiing my best. I skied really well today and I probably was top two in the turns and I'm just losing so much time in the flats it's so frustrating.

"It's been the same problem the last three races. I'm just going to watch video and improve upon what I can, but honestly I think I'm skiing some of the best I've skied."

Michael Walchhofer returned to the spot where he made his first Austrian downhill team -- Kitzbuehel's notoriously dangerous slope.

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