Svindal wins season-ending men’s downhill
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland ” Aksel Lund Svindal won the season’s final World Cup downhill Wednesday, giving him a big boost in the chase for the overall title.
Overall leader Benjamin Raich of Austria finished 13th in the downhill, knocking Bode Miller out of the chase for the overall title. Miller ” who was still mathematically in contention going into the race ” finished only ninth in the downhill.
Svindal clocked a winning time of 1 minute, 18.97 seconds in an event marred by two crashes that delayed the race and led to different course conditions for later racers.
“I was surprised I was so fast,” Svindal said. “That was important for me in order to get points. But it’s never pleasant when you are waiting at the start and two of your colleagues are hurt.”
Switzerland’s Daniel Albrecht delighted home fans by finishing second in 1:19.02 for his best career downhill result. Austria’s Christoph Gruber was third in 1:19.04.
American Ted Ligety finished fourth in 1:19.06 for his best career World Cup downhill result.
Svindal picked up 100 points to move into second place in the overall standings with 1,075. Raich leads Svindal by 23 points.
Switzerland’s Didier Cuche, the new World Cup downhill champion, dropped from second to third in the overall standings after tying for fifth with Hermann Maier in the final race.
Cuche is 67 points behind Raich. Miller is 303 points off the lead, with only another 300 points up for grabs in the last three races of the season.
Raich needs as many points as possible in the speed events before his preferred technical races this weekend, but has an extra challenge as only the top 15 score at the World Cup finals. Normally, the top 30 finishers get points.
Former world champion Bruno Kernen of Switzerland was airlifted from the course with suspected neck and knee injuries after badly landing a jump coming out of a turn. The helicopter returned to collect France’s Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin, who also crashed.
The race should have taken less than an hour to complete but took more than two. It was interrupted for almost half an hour after Kernen crashed, and nearly another 30 minutes after Dalcin’s accident.
The sun warmed the course during the delays and modified the surface conditions. Raich and Ligety were among the early starters who benefited.
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After falling through a trapdoor in his Telluride home a couple of weeks ago, Chris Busbee wasn’t sure if he’d be able to keep his streak going. He had run in every New York City Marathon since 1998 and was going to run it virtually this year in Aspen before his spill put all that in jeopardy.