SKIING: Austrian benefits from new skis for slalom win

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MICHAELA DORFMEISTER emerged as Austria's best hope to succeed the injured Alexandra Meissnitzer when she took her second successive giant slalom win of the Alpine World Cup season in Val d'Isere, France, yesterday.

Dorfmeister's impressive victory, in a combined time of 2min 17.10sec, was symbolic as Meissnitzer, the 1999 World Cup champion who is absent through injury, won the giant slalom here last year.

The Austrians had a superb day with second place going to the teenager Silvia Berger in 2:17.92 and fifth to the evergreen Anita Wachter.

Dorfmeister, better known as a downhill and super-G specialist, believes her new skis are the reason for her current form in giant slalom, an event in which she had never won before this season. "My skis are the only explanation. They take me exactly where I want to go. It's a real pleasure," she said. The downhill world silver medallist also hopes to shine in next week's speed events in St Moritz, Switzerland.

Berger's second place on the OK piste, her first World Cup podium placing, confirmed her as the new talent in the Austrian squad. The 19-year-old from Westendorf, winner of the European Cup last season and a newcomer on the A team, beat the local favourite, Regie Cavagnoud, into third place.