WINTER SPORTS ROUNDUP : Heinzer Wins Downhill; Three Americans Fall

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From Associated Press

World champion Franz Heinzer of Switzerland mastered a treacherous World Cup course to win the men’s downhill, and three Americans were among those who fell at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Sunday.

Heinzer’s margin of victory was two-hundredths of a second over Italian Pietro Vitalini.

The race was held up 45 minutes after American Chad Fleischer crashed into the safety net. His coach, Ueli Luthi, said Fleischer suffered a bruised side.

Luthi said AJ Kitt was slightly injured and Craig Thrasher not hurt in the other falls involving Americans.


Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg, the four-time overall World Cup champion, finished fifth. But he regained the lead in the overall standings by winning the combined, which merges results of the downhill and Saturday’s slalom.

“It was one of the toughest courses in my 12-year career,” Heinzer said after his first World Cup victory of the season and 15th of his career. “It’s a great victory in a classic that I had never won before.”

Heinzer’s time was 1 minute 55.09 seconds.

Fleischer, a World Cup rookie, lost control on the tough, icy course, rolled over several times and crashed into the net. Officials halted the race while a helicopter flew the 21-year-old from Vail, Colo., to a hospital.

Kitt tumbled down the bumpy course as he came shooting out of a section known as “Hell.” Course officials had to extract him from the netting. He was able to get up on his own, but his status was uncertain for today’s downhill.

Kitt, who posted his only World Cup victory at Val d’Isere in 1991, was leading when the race was halted.

Martin Viala of Germany slammed into a safety barrier after crossing the finish line. He suffered a broken nose and a slight concussion.


Carole Merle defeated World Cup leader Anita Wachter for her second consecutive giant slalom victory, at Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy.

The 29-year-old French skier, the defending World Cup giant slalom and super-G champion, had the fastest times in both runs for a combined clocking of 2:31.54.

“My skis are finally running fast, and I have recovered a winning form and determination,” Merle said after the 19th victory of her World Cup career. “In the first few events in the United States and Canada I had some problems with my skis.”

Olympic super-G champion Deborah Compagnoni of Itay finished third, proving that she is fully recovered from a serious knee injury that sidelined her for nine months.

Julie Parisien of Auburn, Me., suffered a slight injury to her left knee and was headed home for an examination, the U.S. ski team said.

Austrian Bernhard Knauss strengthened his hold on first place in the U.S. Pro Ski Tour standings with a victory over 1992 world champion Ove Nygren of Norway in a slalom at Telluride, Colo.


Knauss, competing despite a sore back, earned his first slalom victory in four tries at Telluride.

Andy Capicik took advantage of subpar performances by his Canadian teammates to win in the men’s aerials at a World Cup freestyle-ski meet in Whistler, Canada.

Capicik finished with 218.57 points, followed by Sebastien Foucras with 209.72 and American Trace Worthington with 209.44.

American aerialist Kristean Porter won the women’s event, outscoring Hilde Synnove Lid of Norway, 156.86-152.65.