VAL D'ISERE, France — In one of the tightest downhills ever, Switzerland's Daniel Mahrer edged teammate Pirmin Zurbriggen and Italy's Michael Mair in a World Cup ski race Monday. All three finished within four-hundredths of a second.
Mahrer, starting first, went down the 3,500-meter course in 1 minute 59.52 seconds. Zurbriggen, starting 15th in the field just missed with a 1:59.55 as Mair took third in 1:59.56.
Zurbriggen knows about close finishes--from both sides.
"It was in Kranjska Gora (Yugoslavia) in 1985. I lost by one-hundredth of a second in a giant slalom," said Zurbriggen, the defending overall World Cup champion. Thomas Burgler, another Swiss, beat him there.
Zurbriggen also beat Mahrer by five-hundredths of a second earlier this year. "Last year I took the downhill at Aspen (Colorado) in front of Daniel. Today he took it in front of me. There's not much more to say."
Mahrer had to win the race twice. He was leading on Sunday when fog stopped the event and postponed everything until Monday.
"It's difficult to win two times in a row in completely different conditions, Mahrer said. Monday's weather was cold and sunny on a packed track.
"It wasn't bad to be leading when they stopped the race Sunday. It was the best of motivations for me," he said.
Mahrer, who only has one other World Cup victory, is happy to start the downhill season with a win. "This confirms my good results at the end of last season," Mahrer said.
He ended with a second at Aspen and a third at Mt. Allen, Canada, two downhills. "I had a good training in October and November and that gave me a lot of confidence," he said.
Switzerland's, Karl Alpiger, was fourth, in 1:59.86. Canada's Rob Boyd, who had taken two of the training runs, finised fifth in 2:00.09.
The best U.S. finisher was Jeff Olson of Bozeman, Mont., who was 31st in 2:01.68.