Herbst wins World Cup night slalom in Austria


Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - Page 7

Reinfried Herbst led another Austrian 1-2 finish in a men’s World Cup night slalom in front of 50,000 home fans on Tuesday.

“I finally fulfilled my dream — winning a race in Austria,” Herbst said. “This is the most beautiful win of my career.”

He led after the opening leg and earned a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 37.32 seconds to beat Manfred Pranger by 1.16 seconds for his second win of the season and fifth overall.

Herbst and Pranger already had two 1-2 finishes at World Cup slaloms this month in Switzerland, with Herbst winning in Adelboden and Pranger in Wengen.

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia was third, 1.23 behind, and extended his lead in the overall standings. He has 735 points, 75 more than Benjamin Raich of Austria, who went out in his second run.

Jean-Baptiste Grange of France was third with 656. Grange didn’t finish either but stayed atop the slalom standings.

Herbst also led in Sunday’s slalom in Kitzbuehel, but went out early in his second run.

“I made a big mistake there and it was so important for me to get a second chance tonight,” he said.

Herbst posted the fastest time in both legs to gain an impressive lead of more than a second.

“The feeling was great,” Herbst said. “The course was set pretty hard so you had to control your speed carefully. I managed to do that to perfection.”

Pranger, who won the race in 2005, also felt he had to make up for going out at the race in Kitzbuehel two days earlier.

“I was so nervous coming here and knowing I had to do well,” he said. “Reini was unbeatable today, but second place is unbelievable.”

Kostelic started a World Cup race leading the overall standings for the first time in his career.

He was fifth after the opening run and attacked in his second, despite knowing his main challengers for the overall, Raich and Grange, were already out.

“I didn’t want to break up but still went to the limit,” Kostelic said.

“The fight for the overall title enters its decisive phase now. There is no time for tactics anymore, it’s just attacking,” he said.

Bode Miller, the defending overall champion, had no obvious mistakes in either run but finished 2.02 seconds back in eighth.

The race on the Planai course was in difficult conditions because of heavy snowfall, and nine of the 30 racers missed a gate in their second run and went out or hiked back up the hill.

The men’s World Cup circuit continues with a downhill and a slalom race in Garmisch-­Partenkirchen, Germany, next weekend before the world championships start in Val d’Isere, France, next Tuesday.