Walchhofer wins super-combined; Miller takes third
VAL D’ISERE, France – Austria’s Michael Walchhofer won for the second time in two days, capturing a World Cup super-combined Sunday when Switzerland’s Didier Defago was disqualified for using improper skis.Austria’s Rainer Schoenfelder was second while World Cup champion Bode Miller finished third to extend his lead in the overall standings. Ted Ligety, Miller’s U.S. teammate, was 10th.The super-combined is split into a shortened downhill run of 1.83 miles, followed by a slalom. Defago was fourth after the downhill behind winner Erik Guay of Canada.Defago had looked set to become the first Swiss man to win a World Cup ski race since Didier Cuche at the downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Jan. 30, 2004. His ski manufacturer accepted responsibility for the equipment violation.
“Didier is very upset, but he has taken the decision very sportingly,” said Michel Vion, Rossignol’s competition director. “There is no rebellion from him.”Vion said Rossignol and the Swiss ski federation most likely will not appeal.Walchhofer, who won the downhill Saturday, sympathized with Defago.”I’m sorry for what happened to Didier,” Walchhofer said. “He had a great race and I would have been happy to finish second behind him because it was one of my best slaloms in the last few years and it gives me momentum for the Olympics.”Walchhofer’s combined time of 2 minutes, 43.15 seconds put him 0.17 seconds ahead of Schoenfelder and 0.41 ahead of Miller. Walchhofer placed third in the downhill in 1:49.40 and 11th in the slalom in 53.75. Guay won the downhill in 1:48.72.Eight racers, including Hermann Maier of Austria, did not take part in the slalom. Bruno Kernen of Switzerland and 11 others failed to complete the slalom on the Jean-Claude Killy course. Kernen had been third after the downhill.
Walchhofer, who won the downhill Saturday, had skis that that did not conform to the requirements of the international federation. Vion said the distance between the base of Defago’s ski and the sole of his boot was above the limit of 2.17 inches.”Simply, and maybe stupidly, the regulation was applied,” he said. “I asked for Didier to have the benefit of the doubt. There are rules and there is the spirit of the sport, which was not taken into consideration.”Vion said that about 10 measurements were made on Defago’s skis and that about half were under the limit and half over the limit.Vion said he argued with Guenther Hujara, the men’s World Cup race director, after the race.”Hujara did not invent our skis, he just applies the rules. They are not new rules,” Vion said. “Rossignol was not vigilant enough and we assume our responsibility. It’s our product.”
Guay’s lack of technique on the slalom became apparent when he missed a gate. Walchhofer was happy to have mastered tricky conditions.”It was not easy to ski on the run because it was very icy,” Walchhofer said. “It was pretty difficult to adapt quickly from the downhill skis to the slalom skis.”Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway was fourth and Benjamin Raich of Austria was fifth. Raich won the super-combined at Wengen, Switzerland, in January, with Defago in third place.In the overall standings, Miller has 378 points after nine races. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal is second with 343 after finishing the super-combined in seventh place. Walchhofer is third with 318.American Daron Rahlves is fourth (303) and Austrian Fritz Strobl is fifth (288) – both did not race in the slalom.
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