Didier Cuche of Switzerland has captured the top spot in the men’s downhill at Kitzbühel, his second World Cup win in two days.This content was published on January 23, 2010 - 16:34
Cuche finished the 3,312-metre Streif downhill course, one of alpine skiing's classic runs, in one minute 53.74 seconds, a day after winning the super-G.
It was his 13th career World Cup win and fourth of the season.
Slovenia’s Andrej Sporn, a slalom specialist, surprised the field, finishing 0.28 seconds back, besting Swiss stars Didier Défago and Carlo Janka, both of whom finished well out of the medals. Werner Heel of Italy finished third, 0.39 seconds back.
Défago, last year’s winner, came eighth, Janka finished 11th and Bode Miller of the United States finished ninth.
"I put myself under enormous pressure. And now the pressure is gone," said Cuche after the race. "This is sure to be compared with an Olympic gold medal," he said of his double victory.
For the 35-year-old from canton Neuchâtel, the win was his third at Kitzbühel; he won in 1998 and 2008. He is also the first man to win both the downhill and super-G since Austria’s Stephan Eberharter in 2002.
It was the final downhill ahead of the Vancouver Olympics and Cuche acknowledged that his back-to-back wins in speed events have made him a big favorite.
"Sure, but I like that idea," Cuche said. "I like to be hunted better that being the hunter myself."
The race also saw Austria’s Michael Walchhofer, winner of the event in 2006, take a spectacular fall, crashing through three safety nets after losing his balance coming around a corner. He was unhurt and skied the rest of the course.
Janka retains the lead in the overall World Cup standings with 793 points, ahead of Benjamin Raich of Austria, who has 743. Cuche is third with 726.
"Winning the overall title is not an issue for me, but I'll do my best to finish second or third," said Cuche, who will compete in Sunday's slalom, which also counts as a combined race with today's downhill.
In Cortina, Switzerland’s Nadja Kamer tied with Sweden’s Anja Pärson for third in the women’s downhill, finishing behind Lindsay Vonn on the United States and Germany’s Maria Riesch.
It was the second day in a row that a Swiss woman secured a place on the podium.
Fabienne Suter, who finished second in the super-G on Friday, tied with Ingrid Jacquemod of France for fifth. Fränzi Aufdenblatten came seventh.
For the women, the weekend racing concludes with a giant slalom Sunday.
Before the Vancouver Olympics open February 12, only one more stop remains on the women's calendar – in St Moritz, Switzerland next week.
swissinfo.ch and agencies
Men's downhill results
Didier Cuche – 1:53.74
Andrej Sporn – 1:54.02
Werner Heel – 1:54.13
Mario Scheiber – 1:54.25
Aksel Lund Svindal – 1:54.42
Hans Grugger – 1:54.49
Ivica Kostelic – 1:54.71
Didier Défago – 1:54.82
Bode Miller – 1:54.90
Natko Zrncic-Dim – 1:54.97
Women's downhill results
Lindsey Vonn – 1:37.70
Maria Riesch – 1:38.12
Anja Paerson – 1:38.56
Nadja Kamer – 1:38.56
Fabienne Suter – 1:38.58
Ingrid Jacquemod – 1:38.58
Fränzi Aufdenblatten – 1:38.73
Julia Mancuso – 1:38.76
Aurelie Revillet – 1:38.86
Daniela Merighetti – 1:38.98
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