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Strobl wins downhill to pace Austrian 1-2-3-4 sweep

December 15, 1996

VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) _ Fritz Strobl led an Austrian sweep of the top four places Sunday, winning a delayed downhill for his first World Cup victory.

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 racers. 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.

``When I saw there were three Austrians in the lead, I said `Why not me ?‴, Fritz Strobl said. ``During the summer in training I had the same times more or less like the others.

``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.″

On Sunday, American Tommy Moe, the 1994 Olympic downhill champion who has been plagued by injuries since, had the best intermediate time when he was waved to a stop.

The racer ahead of 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 to the top. He started again and finished in 1:53.38, 35th place.

``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.″

Krisitan Ghedina of Italy was fifth at 1:51.89, one-hundredth of a second ahead of Luc Alphand of France, last year’s winner and the two-time World Cup downhill champion.

Seventh was another Italian, Pietro Vitalini, 1:52.08. American Kyle Rasmussen was eighth, 1:52.33.

AJ Kitt of the United States, who won this race in 1991 and was leading another race when it was called off, was 12th at 1:52.44. Last year Kitt was injured in training at Val d’Isere. He tore knee ligaments, similar to Picabo Street’s injury last week, and was out for the year.

Lasse Kjus of Norway, the overall champion last year, withdrew because of the flu and bronchitis.

Kjetil-Andre Aamodt of Norway remains the overall leader for the season after six races despite finishing 43rd.

The downhill race Sunday forced a postponement of a super-G race until Monday. There is a slalom in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, on Tuesday and a few skiers had to hurry to Italy for the first heat Tuesday.

Weather conditions have affected the four World Cup races scheduled this week. A women’s super-G was held Thursday but heavy snow canceled a women’s giant slalom Friday as well as a men’s downhill training.

Last week a downhill and super-G were called off because of poor weather in Whistler Mountain, British Columbia.

Subsequent problems in transporting ski equipment forced a cancellation of the men’s practice run Wednesday.

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