Cuche wins World Cup downhill title |

Cuche wins World Cup downhill title

Nesha Starcevic
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Didier Cuche of Switzerland is airborne on his way to win a Men's World Cup downhill race, at Kvitfjell, Norway, Saturday, March 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

KVITFJELL, Norway – Didier Cuche of Switzerland won his third World Cup downhill title with a dominant run Saturday, his first race after missing the podium in the event at the Vancouver Olympics.

Cuche finished the race on the 1994 Olympic course in 1 minute, 45.98 seconds to beat Olympic silver medalist Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway by nearly half a second. Klaus Kroell of Austria, who won the race last year, was third.

“It’s a nice day. I really enjoyed it,” Cuche said. “I was very nervous about 30 minutes before the start but then I calmed down. I found a really tight line down the course.”

It was Cuche’s third victory this season in the event, and he clinched the discipline title with one race remaining at the World Cup finale in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, next week.

The 35-year-old Swiss also won the downhill titles in 2007 and 2008.

With a giant slalom and super G victory as well, Cuche has won five races this season and has a total of 14 career wins.

Saturday’s race in sunny but freezing weather was marred by a heavy crash by Andrew Weibrecht of the United States, the Olympic super G bronze medalist.

Weibrecht lost his balance while landing after a long jump, tumbled over several times with his skis and poles flying away and finally came to a stop in safety netting. He dislocated his shoulder and will not compete in Germany, according to U.S. ski team medical director Richard Quincy.

Cuche went to Vancouver as the leading downhill racer but finished sixth in the Olympic race.

“Of course the Olympics were a disappointment but I wasn’t completely down,” Cuche said. “The media at home made me the big favorite at the Olympics and then they tried to put me down by saying I was completely destroyed. It was a game I didn’t like.”

“The Olympics is one race and what does one race mean compared to the other 120 between the games?” Cuche said. “I came here to enjoy the skiing and not seek revenge for anything. I’ve always liked being here; having success makes it even better.”

Cuche’s only rival for the downhill title, Swiss teammate Carlo Janka, finished sixth.

Svindal, who won the super G Olympic gold medal, delighted the home crowd with a fast run, but he went too wide in a bend compared to Cuche and had to settle for second in 1:46.45. Kroell was third in 1:46.55.

“I was fine last until the last jump. When I landed I came off the track and there was a bit of snow there,” Svindal said. “Didier is the best downhiller in the world and he deserved to win. He should have won a medal in Vancouver.”

Olympic champion Didier Difago of Switzerland finished a distant 14th, and bronze medalist Bode Miller of the United States skipped the trip to Norway.

Kroell crashed in Friday’s practice and his left leg was sore, but the Austrian still posted his best finish of the season.

“I didn’t put too much pressure on the leg in the first two gates but then it was fine,” Kroell said. “It’s a great course for me.”

Benjamin Raich of Austria, the overall World Cup leader, failed to earn any points and is now only 70 ahead of Janka.

Raich, who is not a speed specialist, will also compete in Sunday’s super G hoping to earn some points.

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