Heel edges Bode in Norway downhill | AspenTimes.com

Heel edges Bode in Norway downhill

Stephan Nasstrom
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Bode Miller clears a jump on his way to finishing second in Friday's World Cup down­hill in Kvitfjell, Norway. (Claudio Scaccini/AP)

KVITFJELL, Norway ” Werner Heel edged Bode Miller to win a downhill on Kvitfjell’s Olympic course Friday, giving the Italian his first World Cup victory.

Heel was 21st in the downhill standings going into the race, but sped down the 1.9-­mile course in 1 minute, 45.73 seconds to edge Miller by 0.10.

“I had a good feeling from top to bottom, but I really did not expect to win,” said Heel, the first Italian downhill winner at Kvitfjell. “It was a perfect day. It’s a nice location and nice people here. … Fantastic!”

For Miller, who won two other down­hills this season, it was the first podium finish at Kvitfjell, where fellow American Tommy Moe won Olympic gold in 1994.

“I was generally pretty happy with it,” Miller said. “It’s hard for me with one training run trying to go 100 percent. It helps me if I have two or even three train­ing runs to sort the course out. Then in general I can go 100 percent pretty com­fortably.”

Miller increased his lead in the overall standings over Benjamin Raich of Austria, who scores most of his points in the tech­nical disciplines. Raich finished 37th and out of the points.

“I knew coming in here it was going to be a challenge,” Miller said. “I had a lot of small mistakes. I was not very comfortable when I got across the finish line that it was going to be the winning run.”

Klaus Kroell of Austria was third, 0.22 behind.

Another downhill is scheduled for today. The meet concludes with a super G on Sunday on the same Kvitfjell course, which hosted the men’s speed events dur­ing the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

“There are a lot of guys who can win here,” Miller said. “The hill favors technical skiing, but it’s not overly challenging. Today was good for information gathering. I learned a lot. Hopefully I will ski a lot bet­ter tomorrow. But it’s still anybody’s race.” Miller moved to 1,183 points in the standings while Raich stayed at 1,058.

“I don’t really think about [the overall] much right now,” said Miller, who in 2005 became the first American since Phil Mahre in 1983 to win the men’s season-long title. “I was hoping to win today, I hope to win tomorrow.

“I pretty much hope I win every day. That could make a good season at the end of the year and hopefully win the overall. But it does not do any good to think about it now.”

In the downhill standings, sixth-placed Didier Cuche of Switzerland leads Miller 504 points to 479.

Marco Sullivan of the United States, who won his first World Cup downhill in late January, hit a gate early in the race and crashed into a safety net with his back first. He wasn’t injured.

Friday’s downhill replaced a race that was canceled at Val d’Isere, France, earli­er this month.

Heel’s previous career-best was a sixth­place finish in the season opener at Lake Louise, Canada.

The last Italian to win a men’s World Cup downhill was Kristian Ghedina in 2001.


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