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Garmisch: Ghedina, Rahlves lead DH training

Garmisch: Ghedina, Rahlves lead DH training{mosimage}GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Kristian Ghedina of Italy posted the fastest time in men’s World Cup downhill training Thursday, then boarded a helicopter to fly to Italy to carry the Olympic torch.

The 36 year-old Ghedina finished the 3,455-meter Kandahar course in 1 minute, 58.92 seconds. Daron Rahlves, who grumbled about the lack of ice, was second in 1:59.36.

”It’s a little more grippy than it normally is, the first couple turns,” Rahlves said. ”Downhill racing is changing these days. It’s getting a little slower, bigger turns and softer snow, there’s some ice in a few spots but not like Garmisch usually is.”

Fritz Strobl of Austria, skiing with a plastic shell to protect his broken hand, finished third in 1:59.76.

Strobl underwent surgery in Salzburg after breaking his left hand in Saturday’s downhill on Kitzbuehel’s treacherous Streif course. He lost control after landing on the tails of his skis during a jump, but found his footing again after smashing through a gate.

After training, Ghedina flew to his home town of Cortina, Italy, where the women are racing, and he is scheduled to run a leg with the Olympic torch. Cortina is the only other Italian city to have been awarded the Olympics.

Ghedina will be flown back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in time for Friday’s final training, with the race scheduled for Saturday. A super G is scheduled for Sunday.

”I’m so proud that I can bring the torch to Cortina and happy to spread the Olympic spirit in my hometown where I used to hear stories about the 1956 Olympics from my parents and people here,” Ghedina said.
”Thoughts of the 1956 Games have accompanied me all through my childhood and to this day. I grew up with the Olympic rings on the ski jump and bobsled track behind my house and especially ice arena where on Thursday I will have the opportunity to relive the magic a few days before my fifth Olympic adventure. It is a big honor.”

Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein was fourth in 1:59.84, while Hermann Maier was fifth with 2:00.03.

World Cup downhill leader Michael Walchhofer of Austria was eighth in 2:00.52.

Reigning overall champion Bode Miller chose to skip this weekend’s downhill and super G. Miller is taking a break, ending his streak of competing in 136 straight World Cup races, in favor of preparing for the Torino Olympics, which open Feb. 10.

The withdrawal from the German races means Miller has all but given up on defending his overall World Cup title.

The last race Miller missed was a downhill on March 6, 2002, in Altenmarkt, Austria.

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