Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rahlves adds another podium at the Hahnenkamm

In combined, Bode is second, Kildow third

Sugar Bowl's Daron Rahlves is going to think good thoughts about Kitzbuehel, Austria when his international ski racing career for the U.S. Ski Team finally comes to an end.

The 32-year-old has been the American "King of the Big Hill" on Hahnenkamm weekend—two wins, two seconds, three thirds and two other top-fives since 2001. No other Yank has that kind of a record on alpine's biggest stage.

Rahlves, the 2003 Hahnenkamm DH king, has said, "There is nothing like winning, or being on the podium, in a World Cup race in Austria. They love their sport and they love the racers who do well here."

He didn't win during the 66th Hahnenkamm weekend at Kitzbuehel Jan. 20-22, but Rahlves was right there. He was sixth in Friday's super giant slalom, then Rahlves overcame tricky conditions to place third in Saturday's big downhill won by Michael Walchhofer, 30, of Austria.

Defending World Cup overall champ Bode Miller, 28, of New Hampshire was fourth in the Hahnenkamm DH—his best DH result since placing second behind Rahlves in the Beaver Creek DH Dec. 2. Miller, second in the Kitzbuehel super combined event, now has 137 consecutive World Cup starts.

Bringing World Cup standings up to date, Austria's Benjamin Raich, 27, was third in Sunday's slalom and padded his overall lead to 892 points. In second place with 704 points is Walchhofer, who is first in DH.

Third place, just 203 points behind Raich, still belongs to Rahlves with 689 points (3rd-DH, 5th-SG, 10th-GS). Thanks to his combined silver Miller is right behind in fourth place with 688 points (5th-DH, 23th-SG, 6th-GS, 4th-combined).

The men raced their night slalom at Schladming, Austria Tuesday, and then go to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany for downhill and SG Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28-29.

Kildow back on the podium

This has been a unique winter for sixth-year U.S. Ski Team racer Lindsey Kildow, who won a cow for taking the gold in the World Cup downhill Dec. 17 at Val d'Isere, France. She plans to keep the cow in Austria, near the U.S. women's team accommodations at Kirchberg.

Native Minnesotan Kildow, 21, is currently ranked second in the downhill standings—but it was her slalom run Sunday at St. Moritz, Switz. that lifted Kildow into third place in the St. Moritz super combined event. It was Kildow's first podium in five weeks and the 10th top-three result of her career.

Vail racer Kildow said after Sunday's super combined, "I was going for it. The downhill didn't turn out to be so great and I thought before the slalom I didn't have a chance of getting on the podium, but I went for it anyway. My slalom definitely made up for my downhill today."

Winning the super combined was World Cup overall leader Janica Kostelic, 23, of Croatia just ahead of two-time defending World Cup queen Anja Paerson, 24, of Sweden.

But the star of the St. Moritz weekend was 32-year-old Michaela Dorfmeiser of Austria. She won her 23rd and 24th World Cup races by taking Friday's super giant slalom by .40 seconds and Saturday's downhill by .07 seconds over teammate Renate Goetschl of Austria.

Libby Ludlow was the top American in SG in 12th place on a very difficult course that claimed more than one-third of the field, while Julia Mancuso and Kildow finished 15th and 18th in Saturday's downhill.

In the standings, slalom and combined leader Kostelic (1158 points) kept her women's overall lead at 214 points despite the major inroads made by downhill and super giant slalom leader Dorfmeiser (944). Giant slalom pacesetter Paerson (801) is third and Kildow (594) sixth.

Next stop for the women is Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, site of the 1956 Winter Olympics. Super giant slalom is Friday, Jan. 27 followed by downhill Saturday and giant slalom Sunday, Jan. 29.

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