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Cuche clinches super-G gold in dream run

Cuche celebrates after his Super G victory

(Keystone)

Swiss skier Didier Cuche has won the men's super-G at the World Championships in France, becoming the first Swiss man to take the top spot in the event in 20 years.

The reigning World Cup downhill champion, who had not won a race this season, tore through the Face de Bellevarde course at Val d'Isère in a time of one minute, 19.41 seconds.

The 34-year-old Cuche was the only skier to break the one-minute, 20-second barrier, finishing comfortably ahead of Italian Peter Fill and Aksel-Lund Svindal of Norway.

It is his first World Championships victory.

In all, three Swiss made it into the top ten on a course that proved too challenging for many participants.

Didier Defago and Carlo Janka, finished 8th and 9th respectively while the fourth Swiss, Ambrosi Hoffman, missed a gate 30 seconds into the race and failed to finish.

Switzerland's last triumph in the super-G happened in 1989, when Martin Hangl took first place at Vail, Colorado. Two years earlier, Pirmin Zurbriggen captured the title at the inaugural event in Crans-Montana, in Switzerland.

Risky run

Speaking after Wednesday's race, Cuche said things could have gone either way.

"It was a fight for me as well," he said. "But along the way I felt I stayed well within the markers. I went fully to the limit but it could have turned out badly. Luckily it went well today."

After crossing the finish line, he celebrated with his trademark ski flip, kicking his right ski end over end through the air before catching it upright with his right hand.

Cuche, a two-time World Cup downhill champion, had been sensitive to speculation that he could not come up with big results at major events. His previous best result at a major championship was a silver medal in the super-G at the 1998 Winter Olympics at Nagano, Japan.

Daniel Albrecht, who is still in an artificial coma after a severe fall at Kitzbühel during a practice run two weeks ago, is never far from the thoughts of his Swiss ski teammates. They begin each day by getting the latest medical bulletin on his condition, which remains stable.

After his victory, Cuche spoke of his concern for Albrecht. "I hope he gets better soon and that he's back with us as quickly as possible."

High hopes

On a bright sunny day, at least the men enjoyed better visibility for racing than the women had to cope with Tuesday in their super-G, which was won by Lindsey Vonn of the United States.

The Bellevarde hill is bathed in brighter light than the Solaise slope, where the women's speed events are taking place, which faces opposite and runs down to a shared finish area.

Swiss fans had high hopes for the four Swiss women starting the challenging 1.926-kilometre Rhône-Alpes course, but only two finished: 17-year-old Lara Gut came seventh and Fabienne Suter – currently second in the World Cup super-G standings – could manage only 11th.

At the 2007 world championships in Åre the Swiss took home six medals. This followed a disastrous 2005 championships in Bormio, Italy, when they failed to win a single medal.

swissinfo with agencies

Alpine World Ski Championships

The Alpine World Ski Championships take place every two years. For 15 days, skiers will compete for medals in the same disciplines as in the World Cup.

A contest among nations, the event is divided into men's and women's events.

This year the races take place from February 2-15 at the French ski resort of Val d'Isère. It is the first time that France has organised the championships since 1968.

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Men's super-G results

1. Didier Cuche (Switzerland) 1:19.41

2. Peter Fill (Italy) 1:20.40

3. Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway) 1:20.43

4. Christof Innerhofer (Italy) 1:20.48

5. Benjamin Raich (Austria) 1:20.56

6. John Kucera (Canada) 1:21.07

7. Marco Büchel (Liechtenstein) 1:21.09

8. Didier Defago (Switzerland) 1:21.10

9. Carlo Janka (Switzerland) 1:21.19

10. Klaus Kröll (Austria) 1:21.20

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