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

And he won.

Walchhofer, who turned to speed races after being unable to make the Austrian slalom team, won Saturday's men's World Cup downhill on the Streif course in 1 minute, 46.75 seconds. It was his second downhill title of the season but first at Kitzbuehel.

"I feel great," Walchhofer said. "I pushed hard and had a couple of problems at the traverse, but it was enough to win."

Liechtenstein's Marco Buechel came second, 0.05 behind, and Daron Rahlves of the US secured third, 0.33 back.

Defending overall champion Bode Miller finished fourth on the course, which had to be shortened due to adverse weather on the upper section.

Walchhofer, who has won eight career World Cup events, including five downhills, also won a downhill this season at Val d' Isere, France, in early December.

Despite becoming one of Austria's leading speedsters, Walchoffer's rise was not so smooth.

"I didn't have a place in the slalom team, so I tried to get into the downhill side," Walchoffer said.

His breakthrough came in Kitzbuehel in 2001, where he finished ninth in the downhill and "got a ticket into the team."

Miller, who has been struggling to recover his form, was satisfied with his skiing.

"I was having fun out there as usual," Miller said. "I had some problems with my knee and I might miss the next race, but it was OK."

The result was Miller's second-best in the downhill this season. The world downhill champion was second at Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Rahlves, who plans to retire at the end of this season, was emotional after skiing his last race on his favorite course.

He has been one of the most successful skiers on the Hahnenkamm. In 2003, he became the first American to win a World Cup downhill here and a year later was the first non-Austrian to claim a World Cup super-G on the slope.

His third place marked the seventh time Rahlves had climbed the podium in Kitzbuehel.

"It has not yet settled that this was the last time skiing down the Streif for me," Rahlves said. "I was like a freight train, I really wanted to go out and give it my best -- all that I had.

"Kitzbuehel is the ultimate in downhill skiing. There is no place like it in the world. I didn't win, but being on the podium is still a nice way to go out."

Organizers were forced to lower the start of the classic Streif as a cloud of thick fog shrouded the treacherous tip of the course, including the dreaded Mausefalle (Mousetrap) -- a spectacular 6? drop with a gravity-defying turn.

With the Turin Olympics just around the corner, Norway's Roar Ljoekelsoey got a huge confidence boost on Sunday with his first World Cup ski jumping victory of the season.

Ljoekelsoey made the day's longest jump of 140ms on his first attempt at the K120 Okurayama hill and then followed it up with a leap of 125.5m to claim victory with 281.4 points.

"I like this hill very much, it suits my technique," said Ljoekelsoey, who won here last year.

"I had two good jumps today. The first was really good and the second was good as well but I just didn't get the takeoff that I wanted."

Ljoekelsoey led Norway to a team ski flying world championship on Jan. 15 in Austria and said he is feeling good about his prospects heading to the Olympics.

"The win in flying and this win will give me a lot of a lot of confidence heading to the Olympics," said Ljoekelsoey.

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