SKIING: Mayer takes revenge

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CHRISTIAN MAYER led an Austrian clean sweep in the final men's super-G of the season in Sierra Nevada, Spain, yesterday to effectively end Hermann Maier's chance of retaining his overall World Cup title. Mayer won in 1min 28.71sec from Andreas Schifferer, in 1:29.06, and Josef Strobl, in 1:29.53.

Maier, the world, Olympic and World Cup champion, finished a disappointing seventh, and his team-mates did him no favours in the battle for the overall crown. He now trails the Norwegian leader, Lasse Kjus, by 102 points with just two races left. Kjus, who shared the super-G title with Maier at last month's World Championships, finished fourth.

If Maier decides not to compete in the slalom, which he does not normally race, then the overall title has been handed over to the Norwegians. Kjus has 1,409 points, with compatriot Kjetil Andre Aamodt second overall on 1,317. Maier has 1,307.

Aamodt finished 16th yesterday, which would normally have given him 15 points, but under the rules operating at the World Cup finals only the top 15 racers score.

Maier was fifth out of the starting hut and crossed the line more than half a second faster than the previous quickest and a second in front of Aamodt, but it proved a false dawn for the Austrian as Schifferer, Mayer and then Strobl all pushed him further and further down the field.

Mayer said: "This is my revenge on the coaches taking me out of the super-G team for Vail. In the morning when I saw the conditions I knew this was going to be a good course for me."

Strobl, asked whether he and his team-mates had tried to assist Maier, rejected such a suggestion. "No, not at all," he said. "Everyone has to look after himself."

Maier was critical of the conditions. "Normally in such a race I should have been the winner," said the skier who has won four out of six super- Gs this season. "The wind was very important... there was also too much soft snow for my liking. My one goal left is to win the giant slalom, but the way things have been going in the last few days even that is doubtful."

Aamodt said he had slipped at the top and, despite making up speed, the error ruined his chances.

Results, Digest, page 31