Phil Mahre of Yakima, Wash., closed in on his second successive World Cup title, and Austrian Harti Weirather won the famed Lauberhorn downhill at Wengen, Switzerland, yesterday in the final races before the World Ski Championships open later this week.
Mahre's victory in the special slalom boosted his point total in the overall World Cup standings to 262, against 179 for second-place Ingemar Stenmark. Although the Cup circuit is only half over, no other racer is likely to catch either and Stenmark, because he does not compete in downhills, can reach a maximum of only 250 points in the slalom and giant slalom disciplines.
"I'm skiing like never before in my life," Mahre, 24, said, adding that he will devote half his time before the World Championship races to relaxing, and the other half to practice.
Stenmark led Mahre by almost one second in the first leg and increased that lead in the second heat until 20 meters from the finish line, when he slipped and fell on his left hip. Stenmark recovered to take second place with an overall time of 1:33.77 to Mahre's 1:33.48.
Weirather covered the Lauberhorn course, shortened to 3,545 meters because of snowfall and poor visibility, in 2:04.43.