FILE UNDER -- Alpine

Wengen: Fritz Strobl wins first training run; Miller fifth

Wengen: Fritz Strobl wins first training run; Miller fifth{mosimage}The 76th running of the Lauberhorn races is coming up this week at the picturesque village of Wengen, a car-free hamlet in the shadow of some of Switzerland’s most dramatic peaks. The first training run went off without a hitch today, with Austria’s Fritz Strobl finishing first among exactly 100 starters.

Strobl finished in 2 minutes, 30.79 seconds, with Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein a tenth behind. Kristian Ghedina of Italy was third. The sun was shining and the snow was perfectly prepared.

Bode Miller was the fastest American of the day, in the run as well as during inspection. He grinned at a reporter who asked to speak with him about the recent controversy, but declined to speak. Among Americans, Daron Rahlves was ninth, Marco Sullivan 45th, Scott Macartney 46th, Justin Johnson 51st, Steve Nyman 52nd and Ted Ligety 89th.

The Wengen races a combined, downhill and slalom this year make up one of the sport’s greatest spectacles, perhaps rivaled only by Kitzbuehel for tradition and prestige. (The Kitzbuehel races, in Austria, are scheduled for the next week, Jan. 20-22.)

The Wengen races began in 1930, and proudly continued throughout World War II. The races were already steeped in tradition when the alpine World Cup was created in 1966-1967. In that first year, 1967, Jean-Claude Killy of France won both the slalom and downhill.

The action starts with downhill training runs on Wednesday and Thursday, both starting at 12:30 p.m. and covered like races here at www.skiracing.com.

On Friday comes the super combi one run of slalom and a shortened downhill. Last year Wengen became the first World Cup site to host this new event.

On Saturday, one of the world’s most classic downhills the Lauberhorn is set to start at 12:30. The longest downhill in the world (2.8 miles long), the Lauberhorn features a cat-track traverse, a tunnel under train tracks and what is said to be the fastest section on the World Cup.

On Sunday is the Wengen slalom, a classic in its own right, dropping down a series of steep steps and snaking between log cabins built for the herdsmen who graze their animals here in the summer.

Skiracing.com will provide comprehensive coverage of the event.

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