Skiing: Tomba sweeps to sixth victory

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Alberto Tomba continued what is fast becoming a procession of the inevitable when he won the World Cup slalom at Kitzbuhel yesterday. He has now won all six slaloms this season.

It was his eighth win of the campaign, and Tomba's inspirational form has given a season shorn of its normal staple of downhill thrills and spills a sharp focus. Despite the handicap of bruised ribs, Tomba was three-quarters of a second quicker than his nearest rival, Jure Kosir of Slovenia.

The Italian now has 41 World Cup successes to his name - behind only Ingemar Stenmark and Marc Girardelli - and is a trifling 400 points ahead in this year's cup. Tomba kissed the snow on the finish line and said the win was one of the most important in his career.

"It looks easy, but I can tell you I needed all my energy and all my concentration to win again on this very demanding hill in front of this great crowd," he said, adding he considered the Kitzbuhel slalom the toughest of the season.

The day's other winner was Girardelli, who emerged on top of the combined event of Saturday's downhill and yesterday's slalom for the 44th victory of his long career.

The overall World Cup title holder, Kjetil Andre Aamodt, finished fourth in the combination and said he no longer believed he had a chance to beat Tomba this year.

Kitzbuhel should have staged the bigest race of the season, the Hahnenkamm downhill on Saturday, but conditions meant that instead two shortened races were held, which were won by the Frenchman, Luc Alphand.

Martina Ertl, of Germany, took advantage of second-leg crashes by Vreni Schneider and Pernilla Wiberg to win the women's slalom at Garmisch-Partenkirchen yesterday.