Tomba's superior finish decisive

 

ITALIAN Alberto Tomba produced another brilliant second run to sweep to his third consecutive slalom victory in the Alpine skiing men's World Cup yesterday.

Fourth going into the second leg, Tomba burst from the start hut and stormed down the Griessenkar, course, clocking the second best time of the second run 53.00 seconds.

That superb effort gave the over all World Cup champion a combined time of one minute 41.05 seconds and his 47th career win.

Due to sunny, mild conditions officials decided to run the top 15 in reverse order rather than the top 30.

But by the time Austria's Mario Reiter, the leader after the first run, went onto the deteriorating course he was unable to protect his 33/100ths of a second advantage and had to settle for second spot with 1:41.25.

Hampered by a pulled hamstring, Slovenia's Jure Kosir, long, considered one of the circuit's premier slalom skiers but limited to one career win, was once again denied victory and finished third in a 1:41.45.

Austria's Thomas Sykora was the only skier to have a better second run then Tomba, lifting him from seventh to fourth, with 1:41.48.

The victory sealed a productive weekend for Tomba, who in Saturday's giant slalom used an equally impressive second run to moved from sixth to second.

After a slow start to the season the flamboyant Italian appears to have rediscovered the form that led him to 11 victories last season and the overall title.

But he warned that his best was yet to come as he tailors his training around the world championships and claiming the one title that has eluded him.

"I'm programmed to be in top shape in February," said Tomba, "but I'm already winning races in January.

"Right now I'm ahead of schedule, everything is going well I just hope I won't be too tired in February."

Norway's Lasse Kjus, who celebrates his 25th birthday next Sunday, consolidated his lead in the overall standings by finishing 10th. He has 956 points.

Switzerland's Michael Von Gruenigen remains a distant second with 590, followed by Tomba with 536.

Meanwhile, Kristina Andersson clinched her first World Cup slalom victory yesterday after Swedish team mate Pernilla Wiberg crashed off course in Maribor, Slovenia.

Wiberg, Olympic combination champion, was strongly fancied to win her third slalom of the season after taking a clear lead in the first leg.

But on the second leg she skidded off course halfway down the 191 metre Pohorje run after leaning too far on her inner skis.

Andersson finished just six hundredths of a second ahead of this season's overall World Cup slalom leader Elfi Eder of Austria.

Olympic downhill champion Katja Seizinger, who fell just 10 seconds into the first leg in Marihor yesterday, has severely criticised security measures by the international skiing federation (FIS) in World Cup downhill races.

After the death of Austria's Ulrike Maier at Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany, in January 1994, the FIS were looking to reduce the speed of downhill events. But Seizinger believes FIS's efforts have had the opposite effect, as they increased the numbers of gates and turns.