Stephan Eberharter Wins Ski Downhill

Saturday, December 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) _ World Cup leader Stephan Eberharter of Austria won a downhill for the second time this season, edging compatriot Michael Walchhofer on Saturday.

Eberharter rebounded from Friday's fourth-place finish in a downhill at Val Gardena to take command of the downhill and overall World Cup standings.

His winning time of 2 minutes, 1.24 seconds, was 0.22 better than that of his countryman. Walchhofer recorded the best downhill finish of his career. Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt was third in 2:01.50.

The best American downhiller was Daron Rahlves, who finished 19th after coming in 37th place Friday.

Eberharter has 490 points in the overall standings, 165 points ahead of second-place Bode Miller of the United States. Aamodt moved to third place in the standings.

Miller did not race Friday or Saturday after winning the last slalom and giant slalom races. Miller and Eberharter will compete in Sunday's giant slalom at Alta Badia.

On Friday, Kristian Ghedina of Italy won the downhill before his home fans. He finished fourth Saturday, followed by Switzerland's Franco Cavegn and Norway's Lasse Kjus, who was second Friday.

His fourth career win at Val Gardena on Friday equaled Franz Klammer for most World Cup downhill wins on this course.

The top two Austrians skied particularly well in the lower portion of the icy course.

``I watched videotapes of yesterday's race, and took a much tighter line today,'' Eberharter said. ``I don't have a great love for this course, so it's very satisfying to win here.''

Eberharter has 250 points in the downhill standings, with Ghedina at 165.

Winner of both the downhill and super-G in Val d'Isere, France, Eberharter is looking to supplant Austrian star Hermann Maier. The reigning World Cup champion said this week he doesn't expect to return in time for February's Salt Lake City Olympics following a motorcycle accident in August.

Saturday's race came a week after Switzerland's Silvano Beltrametti was paralyzed from the waist down in a high-speed crash during the season's opening downhill in Val d'Isere.

Safety measures were added for the two downhills, with organizers lining the course with blue stripes to help the skiers' vision.