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Gut settles for silver once again

Silver lining: Lara Gut after the women's downhill in Val d'Isère

(Keystone)

Swiss teenager Lara Gut has missed winning the downhill gold by half a second at the World Championships, where she took second to Lindsey Vonn of the United States.

Gut posted the fastest speed on the course in Val d'Isère, France, at 104km/h with a time of one minute, 30.85 seconds. That was 0.52 seconds behind Vonn, who tapped 102 km/h but with a cleaner line.

Italian Nadia Fanchini, who has missed much of the season with an irregular heartbeat, took third, only 0.05 seconds behind Gut.

The downhill performance on Monday brought Gut her second silver medal in four days despite racing the course with a stomach ache. Last week the 17-year-old came second in the super-combined event to earn her first medal at the World Championships.

The downhill had initially been scheduled for Sunday, but was delayed because of snowfall.

Conditions on Monday were somewhat better but poor light still dogged some skiers.

Fast but not enough

Though Gut's run had been fast, she shook her head at the finish line in disappointment.

"I knew it was insufficient for gold," she said afterwards. "I told myself that I'd done a good run but nothing extraordinary. I was surprised to stay in first position for so long."

She added: "I've had a stomach ache for a couple of days and I felt really bad last night. I didn't feel anything during the race, but beforehand and afterwards I was doubled over in pain. For that reason this silver is even more meaningful."

Gut was the sixth racer down the 2.2km course and held onto first place until Vonn, who was 21st out of the gate, bested her time.

"Lara looked like she had an amazing run and I didn't know if I was going to do it," Vonn added. "I fought the whole way down and nailed the bottom section."

"Lindsey has a great feel on her skis and great technique. When she puts it all together she's unbeatable," said Emily Brydon from Canada, who came 11th.

"Lara is a great skier but ignorance is bliss. She really doesn't know what she does to go fast – she just goes fast. What Lindsey does week after week is even more impressive. She really has a strong mind."

Half go wide

Gut has raced only four World Cup downhill races in her career and came third a year ago in St Moritz. She won a super-G contest there last season.

"Two medals at 17 – that's fantastic," Gut said on Monday. "The first gave me a lot of pleasure because I didn't really expect it in the super-combi, and this one is great because it's the downhill."

Other Swiss women racers didn't fare so well on the course, which was steep and bumpy and filled with off-camber turns.

Of the four who started only two finished. Fabienne Suter, who has won two silver and two bronze medals at World Cup races this season, came 17th, three seconds behind the winner.

Dominique Gisin, who last month won back-to-back downhill contests, was faster than Gut in the top section of the course but went wide and missed one of the 37 gates.

Nadia Styger, who took fourth in a World Cup race last year, also did not complete the race after she veered off course in a sharp turn.

So close for Zurbriggen

The Swiss men's team narrowly missed a podium finish in the super-combi event after Silvan Zurbriggen finished in fourth place only a fraction of a second behind the bronze.

Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal won the event with a combined time of two minutes, 23 seconds. France's Julien Lizeroux took second (+0.9 seconds) and Croatia's Natko Zrncic-Dim took third (+1.58 seconds).

Zurbriggen had completed the downhill course earlier in the day in one minute, 32.94 seconds, the fourth fastest time. After the slalom event, which saw a dozen racers not finish, Zurbriggen's combined time of two minutes, 24.59 seconds was just 0.01 seconds behind Zrncic-Dim.

"It really hurts," Zurbriggen said. "It wasn't my day."

The only other Swiss skier to place in the top 20 was Sandro Viletta who tied for sixth place with France's Thomas Mermillod Blondin.

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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Women's downhill results

1. Lindsey Vonn, United States, 1 minute, 30.31 seconds.
2. Lara Gut, Switzerland, 1:30.83.
3. Nadia Fanchini, Italy, 1:30.88.
4. Elisabeth Görgl, Austria, 1:31.24.
5. Marion Rolland, France, 1:31.45.
6. Marie Marchand-Arvier, France, 1:31.51.
7. Andrea Fischbacher, Austria, 1:31.88.
8. Wendy Siorpaes, Italy, 1:32.31.
9. Stacey Cook, United States, 1:32.37.
10. Maria Riesch, Germany, 1:32.42.

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Men's super-combined results

1. Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway) 2:23.00
2. Julien Lizeroux (France) 2:23.90
3. Natko Zrncic-Dim (Croatia) 2:24.58
4. Silvan Zurbriggen (Switzerland) 2:24.59
5. Peter Fill (Italy) 2:24.96
6. Sandro Viletta (Switzerland) and Thomas Mermillod Blondin (France) 2:25.07
8. Romed Baumann (Austria) 2:25.21
9. Kjetil Jansrud (Norway) 2:25.30
10. Alexander Horoschilow (Russia) 2:25.91

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