Defago wins World Cup downhill; Miller 4th | AspenTimes.com

Defago wins World Cup downhill; Miller 4th

Eric Willemsen
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Switzerland's Didier Defago celebrates in the finish area after winning an alpine ski, men's downhill World Cup race, in Kitzbuehel, Austria, Saturday Jan. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)
AP | AP

KITZBUEHEL, Austria ” Didier Defago of Switzerland won a World Cup downhill race for his second victory in eight days, while Bode Miller finished tied for fourth.

Defago charged down the famed Streif course in 1 minute, 56.09 seconds Saturday to beat Michael Walchhofer of Austria by 0.17 seconds. He also won a World Cup downhill last Saturday.

Klaus Kroell of Austria, who won Friday’s super-G despite a broken right hand, was third. Miller shared fourth place with Didier Cuche of Switzerland.

The race was interrupted for about 20 minutes after TJ Lanning of the United States crashed into the safety nets. He injured his right knee and was taken to a hospital by helicopter as a precaution, said U.S. team spokesman Doug Haney.

Lanning, the third racer on the course, lost balance on a bumpy curve that was particularly icy after rainfall Friday night.

Miller had no obvious mistakes but still lost half a second on Defago in the first half of his run before charging for a clean finish.

The reigning overall champion, Miller has yet to win a World Cup race this season. He’s in a commanding position to win the super-combined title, which consists of the downhill and Sunday’s slalom.

Miller, who won the super-combi event last year, leads Raich by 0.62 seconds heading into the slalom.

World Cup overall leader Benjamin Raich of Austria shared 12th with Liechtenstein’s Marco Buechel to stay atop the standings with 660 points. Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway is second with 610, followed by Defago with 595. Miller is ninth with 445.

American Erik Fisher was 11th for his second-best career downhill finish.

“It was a lot faster and bumpier,” he said. “I just wanted to have a clean run, it was my first time here.”

Andrew Weibrecht of the United States was 22nd and teammate Marco Sullivan was 24th.

“It was a big goal for Marco to come here to perform well,” said U.S. coach Sasha Rearick. “He tried a little too hard. It’s a big learning experience for him.”

Fisher is hopeful that Lanning will be OK.

“It looked like a pretty tough crash, but he is a tough kid,” Fisher said. “It’s a tough turn because it’s icy, you’re coming of a jump and you’re tired.”

Many racers struggled to keep their line. Werner Heel of Italy also crashed into the safety boarding but wasn’t hurt.

The 31-year-old Defago became the 12th racer in World Cup history ” and the first since Stephan Eberharter of Austria in 2002 ” to win classic downhill races in Wengen and Kitzbuehel in the same year. Defago also won a super-G in 2003 in Val Gardena, Italy.

“This is a whole new situation for me,” said Defago, whose first podium finish in the downhill came last week. “It’s every skier’s dream to win in Kitzbuehel.”

Defago was not clean early in his run, but was the fastest finisher at 88 mph.

Walchhofer lost time in the bottom part of the course, which probably cost him victory.


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