Skiing: Mayer turns the tables on `the Hermannator'

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HERMANN MAIER suffered his second defeat in quick succession yesterday when his fellow Austrian, Christian Mayer, beat him in to second place in a giant slalom in Saalbach.

Mayer, an all-rounder who competes in all events except the downhill, improved on his first-leg seventh position for an overall time of 2 min 25.83 sec for the fifth victory of his career. The steep and icy Zwoelfer piste claimed many prominent victims on the second run including Austria's Stephan Eberharter and Rainer Salzgeber, fourth and fifth fastest respectively after the first run.

"It's not a bad thing to be the century's last winner and that it was on home soil makes it even more special," said Mayer.

The 26-year-old's win in the first race to be staged in Austria this winter also marked the 50th giant slalom triumph for the all-conquering Austrian men since the World Cup was founded in 1967.

Maier, who was beaten at Alta Badia by the Frenchman Joel Chenal last week, was not downhearted. "I'm happy today. It was important for me to get the points," said the 1998 World Cup champion.

His second place increased his lead in the overall standings to 840 points - 400 more than his closest rival and compatriot, Eberharter.

Benjamin Raich, at 21, the youngest member of the Austrian team, completed an all-local podium with third place.