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Swiss Are Favored in World Ski

January 31, 1987|BOB LOCHNER | Times Assistant Sports Editor

CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland — The main event of the 1987 Alpine World Ski Championships will be conducted here today, with the host nation heavily favored to sweep the medals.

Led by World Cup leader Pirmin Zurbriggen, the Swiss team has five racers in the top 15 of the men's downhill.

The race will be shown on "Wide World of Sports," delayed (Channel 7, 4:30 to 6 p.m., PST).

The other Swiss contenders are Daniel Mahrer, Peter Mueller, Franz Heinzer and Karl Alpiger.

There is an American in the first seeding, but it's not Olympic champion Bill Johnson, who is currently recuperating from knee and back surgery. Instead, U.S. hopes will ride on the skis of Doug Lewis, who took the bronze medal in this biennial event two years ago at Bormio, Italy, but has done little since.

The 1987 World competition actually opened at this resort 100 miles east of Geneva last Sunday, but this week was devoted to something called the combined, in which racers who are good in both the downhill and the more technical slalom try to compile the best total finish for the two races and thereby earn medals.

Erika Hess of Switzerland finished third twice and won the women's gold, ahead of Sylvia Eder of Austria and Tamara McKinney of the United States. McKinney wasn't even in the top 10 of the combined downhill, but she won the combined slalom and wound up with the bronze overall.

The men's combined downhill was postponed Friday because of fog and will be held Sunday afternoon. Felix McGrath of the United States was third after the slalom but does not figure to place high in the combined downhill.

Most of the top skiers did not enter the combined, preferring to concentrate on their specialties in the four individual disciplines--downhill, slalom, giant slalom and super-G.

These races, for both men and women, will continue through Feb. 8.

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