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Strobl edges Aamodt for Lake Louise downhill win; Nyman leads Americans

Strobl edges Aamodt for Lake Louise downhill win; Nyman leads Americans{mosimage}LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – Olympic champion Fritz Strobl won the season-opening downhill on Saturday for his ninth career World Cup victory.

The Austrian sped down the relatively flat and shortened Olympic course in 1 minute, 40.96 seconds, a tiny .09 ahead of another veteran, Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway.

“Sure I’m a little surprised,” Strobl said. “I don’t really know what I did. The day was a bit of a whirlwind. I forgot my racing suit at the hotel this morning so then I was in a hurry and a bit of a panic. I had no time to think about the race or how I was going to run it.”

It was the ninth career World Cup win for Strobl, and his first since winning a super G in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Jan. 26, 2002. It was Strobl’s first downhill win since a Dec. 29, 2001 race in Bormio, Italy.

Liechtenstein’s Marco Buechel was third in 1:41.11, edging four-time overall champion Hermann Maier off the podium. Maier had been sitting in third at 1:41.39 before Buechel’s run.

“It was a very good race for me,” said Maier, who won the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden last month despite an ankle he injured in a training crash this summer. “My ankle still hurts and it could be something I carry with me all winter. I took three weeks off after Soelden to rest it but it meant I’m not in the best shape now.”

Conditions became more difficult for late starters because of warming temperatures and a light snowfall after the 21st skier came out of the hut – in addition to the flat light and rough snow surface.

Several of the top contenders who started later, such as reigning World Cup overall champion Bode Miller, were surprisingly slow.

Miller, who posted his first World Cup downhill victory here last year, was the 26th skier to start. As he was settling into his tuck on the upper flat, Miller’s right foot washed out from under him. He lost his footing several times after that and never looked in control.

Miller finished 22nd, 1.47 seconds off the pace. The first American to win the overall title last season in 22 years, Miller avoided the media following the race, jumping a fence to make his escape.

American Daron Rahlves was 32nd. Reigning U.S. nationals downhill champ Steve Nyman placed 14th for his top career World Cup effort. Other Americans were Scott Macartney (24th), Marco Sullivan (39th), Justin Johnson (46th) and Christopher Beckmann (53rd).

Michael Walchhofer, the reigning World Cup downhill champion, was expected to do well on the flattish course because of his weight and strong gliding skills but finished only seventh, .69 back.

“It’s difficult to say what happened,” said Walchhofer, who made the downhill podium in all but three races last season and climbed the podium four consecutive times in Lake Louise, including a downhill victory in 2003. “I crossed the finish line thinking I’d done a really aggressive run.”

The Lake Louise racing continues Sunday, Nov. 27 with the first super G of the 2005-06 season.

– Staff report/The Associated Press

World Cup men’s downhill, Lake Louise

1. Fritz Strobl, Austria, 1 minute, 40.96 seconds.
2. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 1:41.05.
3. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 1:41.11.
4. Hermann Maier, Austria, 1:41.39.
5. Bruno Kernen, Switzerland, 1:41.51.
6. Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway, 1:41.60.
7. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 1:41.65.
8. Klaus Kroell, Austria, 1:41.71.
9. Yannick Bertrand, France, 1:41.75.
10. Johann Grugger, Austria, 1:41.77.
(tied) Didier Defago, Switzerland, 1:41.77.
12. Antoine Deneriaz, France, 1:41.87.
13. Andreas Schifferer, Austria, 1:41.94.
14. Steven Nyman, United States, 1:42.01
(tied) Ambrosi Hoffmann, Switzerland, 1:42.01.
16. Christoph Gruber, Austria, 1:42.06.
17. Erik Guay, Canada, 1:42.07.
18. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 1:42.11.
19. Finlay Mickel, Britain, 1:42.13.
20. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:42.19.
21. Andreas Buder, Austria, 1:42.34.
22. Bode Miller, United States, 1:42.43.
23. Werner Heel, Italy, 1:42.53.
24. Scott Macartney, United States, 1:42.63.
25. John Kucera, Canada, 1:42.70.
26. Peter Fill, Italy, 1:42.76.
27. Kristian Ghedina, Italy, 1:42.81.
28. Walter Girardi, Italy, 1:42.86.
29. Juerg Gruenenfelder, Switzerland, 1:42.88.
30. Alessandro Fattori, Italy, 1:42.90.
Other North Americans
32. Daron Rahlves, USA 1:42.99
38. Manuel Osborn-Paradis, CAN 1:43.27
39. Marco Sullivan, USA 1:43.40
42. Brad Spence, CAN 1:43.80
43. Francois Bourque, CAN 1:43.86
44. Erik Fisher, USA 1:43.95
46. Justin Johnson, USA 1:44.09
53. Christopher Beckmann, USA 1:44.55
DNF: Jeff Hume, CAN

By Hank McKee

Equipment, Men’s DH, Lake Louise, Nov. 26, 2005
1. Strobl, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2. Aamodt, Dynastar/Lange/Tyrolia
3. Buechel, Head/Lange/Tyrolia
4. Maier, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5. Kernen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
6. Svindal, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7. Walchhofer, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8. Kroell, Head/Lange/Tyrolia
9. Bertrand, Dynastar/Lange/Look
10. Grugger, Head/Lange/Tyrolia

Men’s World Cup Downhill, Lake Louise, Canada. … It is the second race of the men’s 34 race (plus 4 combined) World Cup schedule. … The first of 10 scheduled men’s downhills. … It is the first race of two men’s and three women’s races scheduled at Lake Louise through Dec. 4.

It is the ninth career World Cup win for Fritz Strobl. … The seventh in DH. … His best previous result at Lake Louise had been 5th in an ’02 DH and the ’99 super G. … It is his first win since Jan. 26, 2002 at Garmisch (SG). … He is 33 years old (among the oldest World Cup winners ever), married with children. … He is the defending Olympic DH champion.

It is the 62nd career World Cup podium for Kjetil Andre Aamodt. … His eighth in DH. … It is his second podium at Lake Louise, having finished 3rd in 2002 DH.

It is the 10th career podium for Marco Buechel. … His first in nearly a full year (2nd Beaver Creek DH Dec. 11, 2004). … He has earned the last five podium placings for Liechtenstein.

It is just the second career scoring result for Steven Nyman and his career best by one placing. He was 15th in slalom at Flachau on March 9, 2002. … It is the fourth-best result at Lake Louise for Erik Guay, who placed second in the second of three training runs. … The 22nd-place result matched Bode Miller’s first scoring finish at Lake Louise in 2000 SG. … It is the seventh scoring result for Scott Macartney. … The fifth for John Kucera. … It was the first time Daron Rahlves had failed to score in a World Cup downhill since January 2002 at Kitzbuehel.

Hermann Maier leads the overall standings 150-100 over Strobl. … Bode Miller is third with 89 points.

The entire scoring field (30) is within 2 seconds of the winning time. … Top 13 within the same second.

Austria, with five of the top 10 finishers, leads the men’s Nations Cup 589-166 over Norway. … The United States is third at 146.

It is the first race Benjamin Raich has failed to finish since February 2004 (SL Kranjska Gora, on Feb. 29).

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