VAL D’ISERE, France, AP
Regine Cavagnoud won her first World Cup super-G of the season Wednesday after finishing runner-up twice in North America, and in the process appeared to have broken a curse against French women at this traditional ski resort. American ace Picabo Street made her long awaited comeback after a two year injury layoff, though the reigning Olympic super-G champion finished out of the points in 34th place, 2.56 off the pace. Cavagnoud completed the 2,140-meter Oreiller-Killy course in 1 minute, 28.72 seconds, a comfortable .47 ahead of her nearest rival Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria, the winner of the season’s opening super-G in Aspen. Cavagnoud had finished runner-up in the super-G in Aspen as well as in the one in Lake Louise. The 30-year-old Cavagnoud put an end to a curse over French women in Val d’Isere, which stretched back almost three decades. Cavagnoud’s victory marked the first time in 29 years that a Frenchwoman won a race at the historical resort, a yearly stop on the World Cup that traditionally marks the return of the ski circuit to European snow.
The last time a French woman won here was in December 1971 when Jacqueline Rouvier clinched a downhill. Carole Montillet gave France another reason to celebrate, placing third in 109.26. Cavagnoud extended her lead atop the discipline standings to 260 points. Street, who was overwhelmed with emotion and cried in the finish area after her race, was joined in her comeback bid by two other veterans.
The 1999 World Cup overall, super-G and giant slalom champion, Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria finished a respectable seventh in 109.89 and 1997 overall World Cup champion Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden crossed 23rd, 2.17 off the pace. The 29-year-old Street, the silver medalist in the downhill at the 1994 Olympics, who also won the 1995 and 1996 World Cup downhill titles, saw her career brutally interrupted when she tore ligaments in her left knee in training after winning the downhill at the 1996 world championships ACL in Vail. She rebounded to win the Olympic super-G in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, but crashed a month later in Crans Montana, Switzerland, tearing her right ACL and shattering her left femur. After five operations to repair damage from that crash, it has taken more than two full years to recover.