PARK CITY, Utah — Austria's Alexander Maier benefitted from a fall by Gilles Jaquet of Switzerland to win a World Cup parallel giant slalom snowboard race Sunday while Steffi Von Siebenthal of Switzerland twice came from behind to win the women's competition.
Not only did Maier, the younger brother of alpine great Herman Maier, notch the first World Cup victory of his career, but it came on his father's birthday and on the same day his brother won a Super G World Cup race in Norway.
"It's a very good day for our family today," said Alexander Maier.
Although the races on the Park City Mountain Resort course that will be used for next year's Winter Olympics didn't alter the top of the men's World Cup standings, Frances Karine Ruby returned to the top of the women's standings when her second-place finish was coupled with previous leader Carmen Ranigler's fourth-place finish.
Parallel giant slalom races don't hinge on how fast snowboarders negotiate the course, but rather pit two racers on side-by-side courses. After the first of two runs the racers switch courses and after the second run the winner is determined by the combined margin of victory in the two runs.
In first run of the men's final, Maier and Jaquet barely made it out of the start when Jaquet, feeling ill after lunch, got off to a bad start and crashed at gate four. While Maier then crashed at gate five, since he made it farther down the hill than Jaquet he received a time advantage for the second run that proved enough for victory.
Third place went to Austria's Stefan Kaltschuetz, who edged teammate Werner Ebenbauer in the consolation race.
Ranigler of Italy seemed headed to the women's final. She held a slim lead over Von Siebenthal after the first run of their semifinal race but crashed midway down the course during the second run. The miscue sent her into the consolation race against Switzerland's Milena Meisser, who won the bronze medal when Ranigler again crashed, also during her second run.
Ruby, the World Cup overall champion in 1996, 1997 and 1998 as well as the Olympic giant slalom gold medalist at the Nagano Games, held a 0.64-second margin over Von Siebenthal after the first run of the women's final only to crash near the top of the course on the second run.
"The visibility was not so good," said Ruby. "I saw Steffi ahead of me, but not the hole behind the (approaching) gate and fell."
With Ruby out of the running, the Swiss boarder continued on to the finish where she first pumped her arms into the air and then hefted her snowboard over her head in celebration.
Von Siebenthal said the victory was proof that one should not dwell on trailing during a two-run race.
"Those are the wrong thoughts," she said. "You try all the time to get that back. Don't think too much. Just go."