Skiing: Girardelli to end brilliant career

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The Independent Online
Marc Girardelli, the five times overall World Cup champion who has won more medals and titles than any other man, will announce his retirement next week.

Sources close to Girardelli, who has won 13 medals from six World Championships and three Olympics in a 17-year career, say the 33-year-old will make his decision public on Monday.

Although born in Austria, Girardelli raced for Luxembourg after falling out with the Austrian federation. An all-rounder, he has not competed since December, and although he had been due to defend his combined title at the World Championships this week, he did not go to Sestriere.

The Austrian team had a promising day in the Italian resort yesterday, with Fritz Strobl leading six Austrians into the top seven places in the first training run for Saturday's men's downhill. France's Luc Alphand, who leads the World Cup this season in both downhill and super-G, was the interloper, clocking the second fastest time.

Strobl, who has won two World Cup downhills this season, clocked 1min 55.88sec down the Kandahar-Banchetta course, over a two-mile track which has a vertical drop of 3,000ft. He was 0.11sec quicker than Alphand, who went into the event confident after winning the last World Cup downhill before the championships.

Werner Franz was third best, ahead of Hannes Trinkl and Andreas Schifferer, with the defending champion, Patrick Ortlieb, sixth. Teams are allowed four skiers per team, but there are five Austrians because Ortlieb qualifies in his own right.

Norway's Atle Skaardal, who won the super-giant slalom title on Monday and, like Alphand, has won three downhills this season, was 38th fastest. Some skiers use practice runs to survey the course rather than to test their speed.

Times, Digest, page 25