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Moe misses out, but still trying to return to Olympic form

December 16, 1996

VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) _ Tommy Moe knew he was skiing well, with memories of when he won the 1994 Olympic downhill gold medal.

In the first men’s downhill of the season, he had a faster intermediate time than anyone before him, including the eventual winner of race, Austria’s Fritz Strobl.

Then suddenly, the race officials were waving to Moe to stop. The skier before him, Graydon Oldfield of Canada, crashed into the safety nets. Oldfield was uninjured, but the race was stopped.

Moe had to regroup and was helicoptered back the top. He started again and finished in 1:53.38, 35th place.

Moe gets another chance today, when the men compete in a super-G that was pushed a day because weather caused postponement of the downhill from Saturday.

Moe didn’t race on Saturday, but was doing well Sunday.

``My skies were really running,″ he said. ``The coaches said I was pretty fast, but there was still the toughest part of the course to come.

``I was pretty mad when I saw the flag. When you get in a zone like that, with everything clicking, it really throws you off.″

Since winning gold and silver medals at the Olympics, Moe has been plagued by injuries, including torn ligaments similar to Picabo Street’s injury last week.

Moe had cleanup surgery on the knee again this year, but he is looking forward to a good season.

``I had lot of good time on the snow training this summer,″ he said. ``I am back physically to where I was in 94-95. Mentally it is just a matter of time.″

In 1994, he won the Olympic downhill, got a silver medal in the super-G and had his only World Cup victory at Whistler Mountain, British Columbia. In December 1994, he had a second in a Tignes super-G before injuring his right knee in March 1995 on the same Kvitfjell course where he won his two Olympics medals.

Moe returned to skiing in October, and rejoined the World Cup circuit in December, but his finishes were mostly in the 30s and 40s. He had a 21st in the world championship downhill in Sierra Nevada, Spain, his best placing on the international circuit.

Almost a month into this season, Moe and the other downhillers finally got their first race of the season. The Austrians made the best of it by sweeping the top four spots.

Fritz Strobl sped down the icy 2.1-mile Oreiller-Killy course in 1 minute, 51.61 seconds, edging Werner Franz by two-hundredths of a second.

Patrick Ortlieb, the world champion and 1992 Olympic gold medalist, was third at 1:51.72, with Josef Strobl, no relation to Fritz and the surprise 1994 winner at this site, fourth at 1:51.81.

``After (Josef) won here two years ago, people kept getting me mixed up with the other Strobl and congratulating me on the victory,″ said Fritz Strobl, whose previous World Cup best was 16th in a super-G. ``Now with my victory here I hope to show people there are two Strobls.″

The bright conditions put times more than five seconds faster than those during Saturday’s race, which was called because of fog after only 17 skiers hit the slope. Josef Strobl was the leader then at 1:56.79.

This was the 10th time Austria had swept at least the top four in a World Cup race, the most of any country. In 1994, the Austrians also went 1-2-3-4 in the second Val d’Isere downhill.

Fritz Strobl started No. 43, well outside the top group, with Franz and Ortlieb finishing more than a half-hour ahead of him.

``I wasn’t worried about starting so late. On the inspection I saw the track was in excellent condition and the visibility was good. Yesterday would have been a different story.″

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