Val Gardena: Ageless Ghedina fastest again in DH training{mosimage}VAL GARDENA, Italy – Italian veteran Kristian Ghedina led a World Cup downhill training session for the second consecutive day on Thursday.

Ghedina, whose 17-season career is nearing an end, clocked 1 minute, 56.39 seconds, 1.48 seconds faster than second-place Swiss skier Bruno Kernen. Fritz Strobl of Austria finished third, 1.64 seconds behind.

”It’s going to be tough to keep up this standard,” Ghedina said. ”I really tried to go for it today, I wanted to improve on my run from yesterday.

”Not only did I improve on my time from yesterday (1:56.56), I skied the way I wanted to, with no errors, always keeping the right line.”

Ghedina’s summer training regimen was cut short when he hurt his lower back lifting weights at the end of July, keeping him out all of August.

His 10th-place finish in Val d’Isere last weekend was his best so far this season.
”I’m starting to get my feeling again, little by little,” he said. ”Val Gardena is a course I’ve always been comfortable on. It always motivates me coming here each year.”

Ghedina’s four victories on the Saslong course tie him with Austrian great Franz Klammer.

Thursday’s training session was the final trial before Saturday’s race, when the top 30 finishers will start in reverse order. Local fans are sure to go wild when ”Ghedo” steps into the starting gate wearing the No. 30 bib as the final competitor.

Ghedina said he is nearly positive he will retire at the end of this season.

Antoine Deneriaz of France, a two-time winner here, placed fourth, and overall World Cup leader Bode Miller of the United States was fifth.

Miller, an all-around skier, ruled himself out of winning Saturday, calling it a downhill specialists’ course, favoring racers such as Ghedina.

Miller said Ghedina was benefiting from excellent skis, saying that on Wednesday the Italian only skied ”moderately well, he made a lot of big mistakes and still was incredibly fast.”

”Ghedina’s just a nice guy. I think it’s great that he’s still racing,” Miller added.

Austria’s Michael Walchhofer, another consistent top finisher on the Saslong, slowed down deliberately at the end of his run and placed 22nd, giving him an early starting position for Saturday.

Switzerland’s Silvan Zurbriggen lost control while landing a jump and slammed into the safety barriers. He suffered cuts to his face and bruises to his hands and legs but still intends to race Saturday.

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who is second to Miller in the overall standings, did not start while recovering from bruises he sustained in a fall Wednesday.

A super G race is scheduled for the Saslong on Friday, a race Ghedina will skip to concentrate on the downhill.

Article Tags: Alpine



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