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Maier reclaims super-G World Cup

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GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Reuters) -- Hermann Maier won the super-G World Cup and captured the lead in the overall standings with an emotional super-G victory on his favorite piste at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

The formidable Austrian, who burst into the limelight with a super-G win in this Bavarian Alps resort in 1997, knocked compatriot Benjamin Raich off the top of the standings.

Raich crashed out on the tricky lower section, losing his balance coming out of a turn and sliding until he hit the safety netting lining the piste.

Maier, in his first full season since he nearly lost a leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001, clocked a winning time of one minute 18.09 seconds on a rough, icy Kandahar course for his third win of the season.

The 31-year-old Maier, whose blend of technical skills and raw speed makes him the ultimate force in super-G, made sure with Sunday's victory of winning the World Cup title for the discipline for the fifth time with two races remaining.

"This is one of my sweetest wins," Maier said. "To come back after all that and win my super-G globe back is just great. I had not expected it. This is very emotional."

Norway's Lasse Kjus, second 190 points back in the super-G standings, had his World Cup hopes crushed when knee surgery on Friday ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Double Olympic champion Maier shrugged off a challenge from Frenchman Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin, who set the early pace with a great run before settling for a surprise second place, just 0.07 seconds back in 1:18.16. It was his first appearance on a World Cup podium.

"To be on the podium is a dream come true and to be on it with Hermann Maier makes it even more special," Dalcin said.

Tobias Gruenenfelder completed a strong weekend showing from the Swiss team with third place in 1:18.46, in a repeat of his result last year.

Maier, who has now won three super-Gs and a downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, leads the World Cup standings with 922 points, four more than Raich who is chiefly a technical racer and did not compete in the downhills here.

Eberharter remains in contention in third place on 871 points and his battle with archrival Maier for the coveted crystal globe promises a thrilling end of season.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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