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Ghedina wins Val Gardena training run; Miller says Rahlves could win

Ghedina wins Val Gardena training run; Miller says Rahlves could win{mosimage}Kristian Ghedina of Italy showed Wednesday he is a serious contender for a record fifth win on the demanding Saslong downhill course.

The local favorite led the opening training session for Saturday’s race, covering the 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) layout in 1 minute, 56.56 seconds.

The 36-year-old Ghedina said he is ”99 percent” sure he will retire after this season.

Ghedina’s four wins in Val Gardena – in 1996, ’98, ’99 and 2001 – tie him with Austrian great Franz Klammer.

Klammer and other former champions are expected to attend Saturday’s race for a celebration marking the 40th anniversary of the World Cup.

Ghedina’s best finish so far this season was 10th in the downhill at Val d’Isere, France, last Saturday.

”I wasn’t pleased with 10th. If you’re content with that, then you’re already finished,” Ghedina said.

Ghedina will likely skip Friday’s super G on the Saslong to concentrate on the downhill.

Austria’s Michael Walchhofer, who won last year’s super G here, was second in Wednesday’s training, 0.50 seconds behind Ghedina.

Ambrosi Hoffmann of Switzerland was third, 0.89 back, and French favorite Antoine Deneriaz was fourth, 0.92 behind.

Deneriaz, an expert at the gliding technique that the Saslong demands, won this downhill in 2002 and ’03.

”I feel like I could go down the course on my hands and I would still be in the race here,” Deneriaz said.

Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller placed fifth and 17th, respectively. Miller stood up out of his tuck at the end of his run, costing him some time.

”That’s unbelievable for Daron on this course. If he skis like that he could win,” Miller said, adding that he was hoping to benefit from having the same ski manufacturer as his teammate. ”That’s probably a good sign for me, too. If they learn something today with the skis.”

Miller holds an 11-point lead on Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal in the overall World Cup standings with 378 points. Svindal fell in the second half of his run and appeared to be suffering from pain in his left shoulder.

-The Associated Press

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