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Maier favourite for Lauberhorn, despite Swiss hopes

There are high hopes that today's running of the 70th Lauberhorn downhill skiing race could result in a long awaited Swiss victory. But most believe that Hermann Maier of Austria will power his way to another World Cup win.

This content was published on January 15, 2000 - 10:38

There are high hopes that today's running of the 70th Lauberhorn downhill skiing race could result in a long awaited Swiss victory. But most believe that Hermann Maier of Austria will power his way to another World Cup win.

In Friday's final training run, Maier, who has a mammoth 400-point lead in the overall standings, flew down this classic course in the shadow of the Eiger in the fastest time. Few would bet against him repeating the feat in the race proper.

Maier was followed by two more Austrians, Josef Strobl and Stephan Eberharter. After them was the Italian Kristian Ghedina, himself twice a winner in Wengen.

But what has given the home supporters so much cheer was the return to form of Bruno Kernen, who was fifth fastest. There are genuine hopes that Kernen, the most consistent Swiss downhiller, could claim the first home victory in Wengen for six years.

Kernen, the 1997 World Champion, has proved that he's returning to form following a knee operation last year.

Not all the Swiss competitors have been happy with this year's course. Didier Cuche complained that, under pressure from the sport's governing body, the course designers have made the Lauberhorn too safe.

"Instead of having nine downhills and six super-Gs this season, we've got 15 super-Gs," Cuche said. Cuche and Kernen are among seven Swiss taking part in today's race.

At over 4,400 metres, the Lauberhorn race is the longest and, at times, the fastest World Cup downhill.

Its dangerous jumps and curves - the Hundschopf jump, the Brüggli-S-bend, the white-knuckle Hanneggschuss, and not least the famous leap at the finish line - have helped to make the Lauberhorn perhaps the most famous ski race in the world. And that's why more than 13 million television viewers around the world will tune in to see it.

By Roy Probert

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