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Skiing / Bob Lochner : Phil Mahre’s Comeback Will Get Heavenly This Week

Phil Mahre will make his California professional racing debut this weekend when the U.S. Pro Tour comes to Heavenly Valley on the south shore of Lake Tahoe.

After 3 events on the skiing-for-dollars circuit, Mahre is fourth in the standings, just behind his brother, Steve, who will be off tending to the twins’ other business, their racing camp at Keystone, Colo.

However, the youngest Mahre, Paul, is also expected to compete in the super-G Friday and the slalom Saturday. The finals start at 2:30 p.m. each day, following elimination rounds at 10:30 a.m. and freestyle aerial exhibitions at 2 p.m.

All of the action will occur under the tramway on World Cup Run, where an 80-foot ramp has also been erected for the airborne display.

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Of course, the distinction between pros and amateurs in ski racing has almost disappeared in the last decade or so. Phil Mahre earned well into six figures as a so-called amateur when he won the World Cup in 1981-82-83 and the Olympic slalom gold medal in ’84.

Now 31, Phil and Steve decided to end their 4-year retirement from racing mainly to replenish their bank accounts with about $400,000 in endorsement money.

That is in addition to any money they win on the tour’s 16 stops, another of which will be Snow Summit, at Big Bear, March 9-12.

Skiing’s top money continues to be available in World Cup competition, which is resuming this week after the holiday break.

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The women are scheduled to race in a giant slalom today at Maribor, Yugoslavia, before going to Mellau, Austria, for a slalom and 2 giant slaloms Friday through Sunday.

After Tuesday’s slalom, Vreni Schneider of Switzerland holds a commanding lead in the overall standings with 157 points, more than double runner-up Ulrike Maier’s total of 78. Another Austrian, Anita Wachter, is third with 62, followed by Swiss defending champion Michela Figini with 59 and American Tamara McKinney with 51.

It’s a tighter battle in the men’s standings, which 3-time and defending champion Pirmin Zurbriggen leads with 122 points. Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg is second with 92, West German Armin Bittner third with 69. The men will tangle in 2 downhills and a super-G at Laax, Switzerland, Friday through Sunday, then go to Kirchberg, Austria, for a giant slalom Tuesday.

Eddie Edwards, who startled the world with his unusual form and courage as Britain’s 1-man Olympic ski-jumping team last February, hopes to be discharged today from a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, where he ultimately landed after a training accident Tuesday.

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Edwards told the Associated Press: “In my second training jump, I had a very good position (in the air), but I panicked because I never had such good (form) before. I bent my legs and then I landed on my face and shoulder. The impact knocked me out for a couple of minutes. But these things can happen to anybody.”

“Eddie the Eagle,” who suffered a broken collarbone, a concussion and assorted cuts and bruises, said doctors told him not to jump again for at least a week.

“I’ll fly again,” said Edwards, who plans to jump in the World Nordic Ski Championships Feb. 14-27 at Lahti, Finland.

Skiing Notes

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Jan Bokloev of Sweden won the 90-meter jump at Innsbruck, third event of the annual Four-Hill series, which winds up Friday at Bischofshofen, West Germany. Jens Weissflog of East Germany leads the tournament with 637.5 points, just 1.5 ahead of Finland’s double Olympic champion, Matti Nykanen.

An additional 2 to 6 inches of snow fell Tuesday night on the eight operating Southland ski resorts, which are reporting bases of 2 to 5 feet. Depths in the High Sierra range from 3 to 9 feet.

One of the World Cup men’s downhills at Laax is due to be shown on ESPN Sunday at 3 p.m., PST, following “Ski World” at 2:30. Bob Beattie’s guests will be Stein Eriksen of Deer Valley, Utah, and various celebrities in attendance at the recent 21st birthday party thrown by Snowmass, Colo.


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