Third straight combined title for Norway's Aamodt
ST. ANTON, Austria (AP) -- Norway's Kjetil-Andre Aamodt won his third straight World Championship combined title Tuesday, edging home favorite Mario Matt and denying the Austrians double gold on the day.
Entering the downhill with a slim .14 advantage from the slalom leg of the combined, Aamodt, a strong allrounder, charged down the badly rutted Karl Schranz course in the downhill leg for a winning aggregate time of two minutes, 58.25 seconds.
Aamodt had also won the combined gold at the worlds two years ago in Vail, and before that in Sestrieres in 1997.
After the Austrian women had swept the podium in their downhill proper, the men had been in a position to win the combined with Matt taking the lead. But following the experienced Aamodt's run, Matt was forced to settle for silver in 2:58.93, ahead of Swiss veteran Paul Accola, third in 2:59.53.
The combined is decided by adding the time of the downhill to the two slalom runs and the system usually favors slalom specialists.
The Americans, including strong contender Bode Miller, had a horrific day, with two-of-three skiers crashing out in spectacular fashion.
Miller, who was sitting fourth after the slalom leg, hit a rut midway down the course, slammed into the ground and bounced like a ragdoll before getting tangled in the safety netting.
Teammate Casey Puckett also lost control after hitting a rut, flying through the air before being catapulted into the safety netting.
Neither was seriously hurt.
Aamodt had done most of the work by taking the lead in the slalom leg, where many of the other favorites crashed out.
Aamodt's fellow Norwegian Lasse Kjus slid off the course in the second slalom run and failed in his attempt to equal a world championships record of winning 11 medals. 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.