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Raich Wins Third Straight Slalom

January 23, 2001

SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) _ Benjamin Raich of Austria won his third straight World Cup slalom Tuesday, virtually assuring himself a spot at next week’s world championships in his home country.

Raich, who won the previous slaloms in Wengen, Switzerland, and Kitzbuehel, Austria, twisted his way down the lighted Planai course in 1 minute, 50.54 seconds.

Hans-Petter Buraas, was runner-up in 1:51.13 for his second top-three finish in three days. The Norwegian was third in Sunday’s slalom in Kitzbuehel.

Sixth after the opening leg, Slovenia’s Mitja Kunc finished third in 1:51.41 _ his first top-three finish this season.

With the Austrian team waiting until the last moment to make its selection for the world championships, the competitive edge was clearly evident.

Three Austrians finished in the top five. Kilian Albrecht was fourth in 1:51.63, followed in 1:51.70 by Heinz Schilchegger, the winner of the opening slalom race in Park City, Utah.

Six Austrians are vying for four berths available per country for each discipline in St. Anton.

Mario Matt seemed guaranteed a berth last week on the strength of a victory in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, and two other top-three finishes. But on Tuesday he crashed in the first leg.

``I don’t know what went wrong,″ he said. ``It was stupid mistake. I just hope it won’t affect my selection for the world championships.″

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