Skiing: Mayer squeezes out the specialists

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The Independent Online
Christian Mayer won only the second World Cup event of his career yesterday when he edged out the Swiss specialist Michael von Grunigen in a giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy.

The Austrian, leader after the first leg, won in 2min 20.97sec to Von Grunigen's 2:21.40. His only previous World Cup victory came in 1993 at Val d'Isere, when he won a giant slalom ahead of von Grunigen in third.

The overall World Cup leader Hermann Maier, who was fourth at the half- way stage of yesterday's race, hauled himself on to the podium with a wayward but swift second run to finish with a combined time of 2:21.63.

Maier seemed certain to fall on the flat run-in to the finish but kept his balance through the final gates to claim a valuable 60 points, which keeps him top of the overall standings.

He skied the second run without a bib after it was stolen in a piste- side canteen between the two runs. Maier was given permission to ski the second run in a borrowed T-shirt, turned inside out to hide a logo. Officials scribbled his number on the front of the shirt with a felt-tip pen.

Von Grunigen kept the lead in the standings ahead of Stefan Eberharter, who skied a combined 2:21.70 to finish fourth.

There was huge disappointment for local hero Alberto Tomba, skiing his last World Cup race at Alta Badia in front of an army of supporters lining the Gran Risa piste. The three-times Olympic champion crashed out half- way down his second run. He leant too heavily into a gate, lost his balance and straddled the next gate before falling.

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