Cuche, 36, oldest man to win World Cup race; Miller 2nd |

Cuche, 36, oldest man to win World Cup race; Miller 2nd

Eric Willemsen
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Switzerland's Didier Cuche celebrates in the finish area after winning an alpine ski men's World Cup downhill race, in Kitzbuehel, Austria, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Giovanno Auletta)

KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Didier Cuche of Switzerland became the oldest man at 36 to win a World Cup race Saturday, claiming the downhill on the Streif course. Bode Miller was second.

Cuche broke Marco Buechel’s record by 85 days. The Liechtenstein skier was 36 years, 74 days old when he won his last race, a super G in Kitzbuehel in 2008.

“It was not really a real goal I was looking for, but I am proud to make it here,” Cuche said.

The downhill champion was nearly flawless on the lower portion to finish the run in 1 minute, 57.72 seconds. Miller was 0.98 seconds back and Adrien Theaux of France was third.

Cuche almost lost his right pole at the start and was not clean in the first turn, but never held back from charging before the capacity crowd of 45,000.

“I first thought my run wouldn’t be good enough, it was not a good start,” Cuche said. “I have to thank my service man because my skis were blistering fast.”

Cuche earned his first victory of the season and 15th overall in what could be his final season on the World Cup circuit.

“I’ll enjoy skiing the rest of the season. After that, I’ll decide if I race for another year,” he said.

Miller, who also finished runner-up to Cuche in 2008, was satisfied with his performance and praised the winner.

“I skied really well today, but there was no chance to take Cuche when he’s skiing like that,” Miller said. “He put down an incredible run and took an amazing amount of risk … He’s got this hill figured out.”

Cuche needed a few seconds after crossing the finish line to realize he had actually posted the fastest time. He said he had to see the run on video to appreciate it.

“The final two-thirds of my run were very, very fast. It’s hard to make a completely perfect run here,” he said.

On his helmet, Cuche wore a cartoon picture of retired Austrian ski legend Hermann Maier – a six-time winner in Kitzbuehel. The helmet will be auctioned as part of Cuche’s fundraising campaign for orphans in Switzerland.

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, who won Friday’s super G, finished 11th to extend his lead in the overall standings. Main rival Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway placed 17th. Kostelic has 850 points, followed by Svindal at 585 and Cuche at 573.

Cuche overtook Michael Walchhofer, who failed to finish his run, on top of the downhill standings. The Austrian lost a ski on a bump in a right turn and slid off course.

“I came off my line and overlooked that bump, it was like a beginner’s fault,” said Walchhofer, the 2006 winner who raced the Streif course for a final time because he plans to retire at the end of the season.

The race was interrupted for 20 minutes after Siegmar Klotz of Italy lost his balance at a jump, fell backward on the slope and slid into the safety nets. He was transported to a hospital by helicopter and treated for head, back and wrist injuries.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation said Klotz was expected to be released from hospital on Sunday.

The Hahnenkamm races will end with Sunday’s slalom, which will also count as a classic-combined event with the downhill.

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