Skiing: Maier falls foul of the rule book

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The Independent Online
The Alpine World Cup leader, Hermann Maier, was disqualified after winning a men's giant slalom in Val d'Isere yesterday, and the decision pleased no one - least of all Maier.

The Austrian, who remains the Cup leader on 429 points, was punished for taking off one ski before crossing the red line marking the authorised area for ski removal. "It's very hard to go from sheer happiness to such disappointment. But I've learnt something today and it will make me stronger," he said.

Michael von Grunigen was declared the winner after Maier's disqualification. "I've had nicer victories than this. But a rule is a rule," the Swiss world champion said.

Race jury officials were also sorry. "I'm not very happy we had to disqualify a racer who performed so tremendously well and who is a real winner," the jury chief, Gunther Hujara, said.

Maier's blunder was discovered after the Swiss team made an official complaint to the jury. But the Austrian team have appealed against the disqualification, saying rule number 630.1.11 mentioned "skis" and Maier had only removed one. The council of the International Ski Federation will make a decision on the Austrian appeal in the next few days.

The rule was imposed in the 1970s at the request of television channels who complained about skiers taking off their skis just after the finish line to show them to the cameras.