Raich clinches slalom title in World Cup season finale
Posted: Sun March 11, 2001 at 1:45 p.m. ESTSportsTicker Contributing Editor ARE, Sweden (Ticker) -- Benjamin Raich clinched the slalom World Cup title when he won the season's final race Sunday, giving Austria's men a clean sweep of all five Crystal globes. Raich, fifth after the opening run, twisted his way down the course in one minute, 47.99 seconds to snatch the title ahead of teammate Heinz Schilchegger. Another Austrian, Mario Matt, who had taken the lead in the opening leg, finished second in 1:48.18 after committing two crucial blunders his second trip down. "I knew I had to push, but I had to make sure that I stayed in the race," said Raich. "To win the actual race is just incredible. France's Sebastien Amiez crossed third in 1:48.31, while Britain's Alain Baxter produced his personal best result, finishing fourth, missing the first podium finish of his career by two-tenths of a second. The Scotsman has proven consistent all season, collecting points in all nine slalom races. American Erik Schlopy, who equaled his career-best with a second-place finish in Saturday's giant slalom, skied off course, after posting the third-fastest time at the half-way interval. Raich's only challenger for the title, Schilchegger had arrived at the Swedish resort trailing by 60 points, but lost any chance at overcoming his rival when he finished ninth. The 23-year-old Raich collected the last World Cup title for Austria, with Hermann Maier having already successfully defended his overall, downhill, super-G and giant slalom crowns. "Hermann is Hermann and what he has accomplished this year is unbelievable," Raich said. "But right now I can only think about how proud I am of myself and coaches to be where I am. I will remember this feeling forever." It marked Raich's third slalom victory of the season, the ninth of his career. He also collected a silver medal behind Matt at the World Championships at St. Anton, Austria, last month. Maier finished the season with 1,618 points, almost twice as many as his nearest challenger teammate Stephan Eberharter, who had 875. Maier won 13 races this season, equaling Swede Ingmar Stenmark's record of 13 World Cup wins in a single season. Raich ended the season with 545 points, with Schilchegger in second with 414.
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