World Cup Down to the Wire

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Nearing the end of an up-and-down season in which two young upstarts are threatening to unseat the defending World Cup champions, the final competition of 2004 next weekend promises to be a cliffhanger. In the penultimate World Cup in Brno, Czech Republic, last Saturday, the Czech Tomás Mrázek maintained his slim lead in the season standings over three-time World Cup champ Alex Chabot of France, finishing second to Chabot’s third. To capture his fourth World Cup title in a row, Chabot must finish first or second in the final comp of the season, next weekend in Kranj, Slovenia. Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Italian Flavio Crespi took his first World Cup victory in Brno, giving him third place in the overall season standings. On the women’s side, Angela Eiter of Austria finished one up on five-time World Cup champion Muriel Sarkany of Belgium — the two rivals placed fourth and fifth, respectively. But Sarkany kept her lead in the overall standings. To take the 2004 title, the young Austrian Eiter has to win in Kranj and Sarkany would have to finish third or worse. As in the men’s competition, a young climber stood atop the women’s podium for her first time in a World Cup: Alexandra Eyer, 23, of Switzerland won the Brno comp and moved into third place in the overall standings. Men 1. Flavio Crespi (ITA) 2. Tomás Mrázek (CZE) 3. Alex Chabot (FRA) 4. Maxim Petrenko (UKR) 5. Bernardino Lagni (ITA) 15. Vadim Vinokur (USA) Women 1. Alexandra Eyer (SWI) 2. Olha Shalahina (UKR) 3. Maja Vidmar (SLO) 4. Angela Eiter (AUT) 5. Muriel Sarkany (BEL)