Ortlieb Wins World Cup Downhill
VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) _ With a perfect run on a course he knows by heart, former Olympic champion Patrick Ortlieb of Austria won the third downhill race of the World Cup season on Saturday.
Ortlieb’s victory in the men’s speed race at Val Gardena came as the Austrian women were scoring a sweep of the top three places in their downhill at St. Anton, just across the border.
``I raced this course at least 30 times. I know it by heart and without doubt it’s my race,″ said Ortlieb, who beat Xavier Gigandet of Switzerland by 0.44 seconds and Frenchman Luc Alphand by 0.48 down the 3,446-meter Saslong track, with a vertical drop of 839 meters.
He reached peak speeds of more than 66 mph on a course with several bumps but a few difficult turns.
The 28-year-old skier from Lech, an Olympic downhill champion in 1992, ended the winning streak of Alphand, who had taken the two previous downhills in Vail and Val D’Isere and the last speed race of the 1994-95 season in Bormio.
Olympic downhill champion Tommy Moe of the United States, still competing with a bandaged knee following last season’s injury, could not push too hard and finished 50th, more than three seconds slower than the winner.
``I have nothing personal against Alphand but I really wanted to beat him this time,″ said Ortlieb.
He finished in the top ten in Val Gardena nine times since 1988, including a second and a third place.
Alphand, the defending World Cup downhill champion, said he was not disappointed, despite defeat.
``I made some mistakes, but I skied well and I made the top three,″ he said. ``My season goal was to win at least one race. I won two already.
Two late starters, Markus Foser of Liechtenstein and Markus Herrmann of Switzerland, finished surprisingly high in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Herrmann was tied in fifth place with Lasse Kjus, the Norwegian skier who widened his lead by 45 points in the overall World Cup standings with a commanding total of 590.
Swiss giant slalom specialist Michael Von Gruenigen, who did not enter Saturday’s downhill, is runnerup with 300 points.
While leading the downhill standings with 260 points, compared with Ortlieb’s 175, Alphand moved to third place overall with 296.