Norway's Aamodt leads men's combined
ST. ANTON, Austria (AP) -- Kjetil-Andre Aamodt held a narrow lead after the two slalom runs of the combined event Monday, while fellow Norwegian Lasse Kjus failed in his attempt to equal a world championship record.
Kjus, bidding for his 11th championship medal, slid off the course in the second heat of the slalom.
Aamodt stayed on course for his third straight combined title by leading the event before the decisive downhill run Tuesday.
"It was a tough course, with some tight gates," Aamodt said. "I'm in good position and I think I can relax a bit now."
He had an aggregate time of one minute, 31.81 seconds for the two heats, a .14-second lead over Mario Matt of Austria, who clocked 1:31.95.
Rainer Schoenfelder of Austria was in third place with a time of 1:32.34.
Bode Miller of the United States was in fourth place after racing the fastest second heat of the slalom, with a combined time of 1:32.96.
Miller is not a downhill specialist, but he's better than Schoenfelder and could end up getting a medal.
"Those guys are all big slalom specialists," Miller said of the two Austrians. "I ski in all four events and that's my advantage."
"The course is very fast and there is a big turn and that's why a lot of people made mistakes. I also made a big mistake which cost me a lot of time," said Miller, who did not finish any of the three slaloms he competed in this season on the World Cup circuit.
'It was a good day to ski to the finish, the slope was difficult. I wanted to give it 100 percent and I did and I am happy with that. There were a couple of sections where I choked and I was, like, woah, but I gave it everything I had," said the 23-year-old from Franconia, New Hampshire.
Kjus, who had been battling bronchitis the first week of the championship, was fifth after the first run but could not complete the second heat.
He was seeking to equal Marc Girardelli's record of 11 world championship medals. Kjus won the combined event at the 1993 championship, took the silver behind Girardelli in 1996, and also placed second behind Aamodt two years ago in Vail, Colorado, where he collected a record five medals.
Kjus won the season's only World Cup combined event in Kitzbuehel, Austria. The two Norwegian veterans have won three of the last four world championships combined titles.
"I felt a little uncertain after Lasse went out but everything turned out well," Aamodt said.
Michael Walchhofer of Austria, who was second in Kitzbuehel and had been considered a possible medalist straddled a gate and crashed out in the first run.
"It was just bad luck," Walchhofer said. "I started well but then got into problems. The course was hard in some parts and soft at others, it was broken up."
The combined winner is determined by adding the times of the two slalom runs to the downhill time, a formula which usually works in favor of slalom specialists.
Ed Podivinsky of Canada, a very accomplished downhiller but a poor gate racer, was in a respectable eighth place, only 4.46 seconds behind third-placed Schoenfelder.
The slalom runs under the floodlights were the first races to be held since Friday, with wacky weather wreaking havoc with the schedule.
The championships ground to a halt Saturday morning when a 36-hour snowstorm dumped about 100,000 tons of snow on the race courses. Sunday it was warm, spring-like weather that threatened further damage to the pistes.
Because of the weather, the downhill leg of the combined event had to be moved for noon Tuesday, right after the women's downhill.
The men's proper downhill was moved to Wednesday morning, ahead of the women's slalom in the evening.