Joel Chenal of France burst into tears of joy yesterday after his first World Cup victory. Chenal beat favorite Hermann Maier of Austria in the giant slalom--a discipline Maier has dominated.
"It is so emotional to win a race," Chenal said after the event in Alta Badia, Italy. "After all the tension, something just cracked and I cried."
Chenal, who had never finished better than fifth before yesterday, was timed in 2 minutes 39.68 seconds, for two runs.
"I never dreamed of beating Maier--who is such a champion--on this extra tough course," Chenal said.
Chenal's previous best this season was 10th in the season-opening giant slalom in Tignes, France. Last season, he was fifth in the giant slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
Maier, who has won five times this season, finished second in 2:39.76. He won the first two giant slaloms this season.
WOMEN'S ALPINE SKIING: Italy's Karen Putzer was the surprise winner of a super-G race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, upsetting the field's elite for her first career World Cup triumph. Putzer charged down the snowy, blustery Corviglia II course in 1:27.37, beating teammate Alessandra Merlin, second in 1:27.53.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Russia's women and Norway's men extended their domination of the World Cup circuit, winning relay races in Davos, Switzerland. The Russians, who have dominated the 20-kilometer relay in recent years, winning every Olympic and world championship gold medal since the Winter Games in 1992, continued their reign.
SPEEDSKATING: Jennifer Rodriguez of Miami remained unbeaten at the U.S. Allround Speedskating Championships, winning the women's 3,000-meter race in West Allis, Wis.
Rodriguez, the winner Saturday in the 500 and 1,500, was dominant in the day's only women's race. Her time of 4:21.81 was nearly 13 seconds ahead of runner-up Ann Driscoll of Roseville, Minn. KC Boutiette of Tacoma, Wash., won the men's 5,000 meters in 6:49.89, .29 seconds ahead of Derek Parra of Greenfield, Wis. It was the first win of the meet for Boutiette.
BOBSLED: Marcel Rohner piloted the Switzerland I team to victory in a World Cup four-man event in Koenigsee, Germany, setting start and track records. Rohner and teammates Markus Nuessli, Beat Hefti and Silvio Schaufelberger led after the first heat, then set the start record with a 5.60-second push in the second heat and finished with a track record of 47.27. Their aggregate time was 1:34.67, one-tenth of a second faster than the German team piloted by Christoph Langen.
SKI JUMPING: World Cup leader Martin Schmitt of Germany won his second event in two days, soaring 126.5 meters on his second attempt to beat Jann Ahonen of Finland in the event in Zakopane, Poland. With three victories in seven events this season, Schmitt has a 190-point lead over Andreas Widhoelzl of Austria.
BIATHLON: Vladimir Dratchev of Russia overcame three shooting errors to win a men's 15-kilometer World Cup event in Pokljuka, Slovenia. Andrea Henkel of Germany had only one missed target in winning the women's 12.5K event for her first World Cup triumph.
FIGURE SKATING: Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes and Michael Weiss brought a sellout crowd to its feet with near-flawless routines, leading the United States to a 10-8 victory over the world team at the USA vs. the World Figure Skating Challenge in Kennewick, Wash.
Kwan received all 5.9s on both of her routines, except for one 5.8 on each, in technique and presentation. Hughes, 14, twirled to 5.7 and 5.8 marks for technique and 5.6 to 5.9 marks on her presentation with a nice mixture of jumps, leaps and spirals in Saturday night's competition at Tri-Cities Coliseum. U.S. champion Weiss received marks in the 5.6-5.8 range in technique and 5.7-5.8 on his presentation.