Cuche wins downhill on Streif; Miller 9th |

Cuche wins downhill on Streif; Miller 9th

Eric Willemsen
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Switzerland's Didier Cuche reacts after winning an alpine ski, Men's World Cup Downhill race, in Kitzbuehel, Austria, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Didier Cuche of Switzerland earned his second straight World Cup victory on Saturday, winning a downhill on the Streif course a day after he captured a super G.

Bode Miller was the top American in ninth.

Cuche sped down the 3,312 meter-course in 1 minute, 53.74 seconds to grab his fourth win of the season in front of a crowd of 44,000. It was the 35-year-old Swiss skier’s third victory at the classic downhill race, which he also won in 1998 and 2008.

Cuche became only the third skier after Austrian greats Hermann Maier and Stephen Eberharter to win two Hahnenkamm races in one weekend.

Slovenia’s Andrej Sporn was 0.28 seconds back in second for his first career podium finish. Werner Heel of Italy took third, 0.39 behind.

“It’s incredible, I was thinking about winning the double yesterday,” Cuche said. “At the start, I was pretty relaxed and I knew I had to attack. I made no mistake so it was a huge relief to reach the finish.”

Miller trailed Cuche by 1.16 seconds and U.S. teammates Erik Fisher and Marco Sullivan tied for 18th.

“It’s incredible, I was thinking about winning the double yesterday,” Cuche said. “At the start, I was pretty relaxed and I knew I had to attack. I made no mistake so it was a huge relief to reach the finish. I am proud to have won again.”

It was the final downhill ahead of the Vancouver Olympics and Cuche acknowledged that his back-to-back wins in speed events have made him a favorite.

“Sure, but I like that idea,” Cuche said. “I like to be hunted better that being the hunter myself.”

Cuche said his preparations for Saturday’s race were helped by a video on the Internet of Eberharter’s winning run in 2004. He said he watched the clip at least 20 times recently.

“It was not possible to ski the exact same line as Stephan because some gates were set slightly different,” Cuche said. “But I think it has helped me today. I was clean from start to finish.”

Carlo Janko of Switzerland finished 1.25 back in 11th and kept the lead in the overall standings ahead of Benjamin Raich of Austria, 793 to 743. Cuche is third with 726.

“Winning the overall title is not an issue for me, but I’ll do my best to finish second or third,” said Cuche, who will compete in Sunday’s slalom, which also counts as a combined race with today’s downhill.

Austria’s Michael Walchhofer crashed just before entering the finishing section. He stood up immediately after landing in the safety nets.

“The right knee hurts, the ligament might have been overstretched a bit,” Walchhofer said. “I am very happy with three weeks off before the Olympic race. For now, I am very disappointed not to finish.”

Last year’s winner Didier Defago lost time to Cuche on every section of the course and finished 1.12 behind in eighth place.

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