Reichelt, Paris share downhill victory in Bormio

ANDREW DAMPF AP Sports Writer Published:

BORMIO, Italy (AP) -- Hannes Reichelt of Austria and Dominik Paris of Italy shared a downhill victory in one of the closest races in skiing history Saturday, with the top four finishers separated by a mere two-hundredths of a second.

Paris took the early lead by clocking 1 minute, 58.62 seconds for his first career win and Reichelt matched him to give Austria its first speed win of the season.

Overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway finished third, 0.01 seconds behind -- the smallest possible margin. Klaus Kroell of Austria was fourth, missing out on a podium finish despite being just 0.02 behind the winners.

"On a hill as tough as this to have a race that close, that's surprising," Svindal said. "The crazy thing is we were fast in different sections."

In the super-G at the 1999 world championships in Vail, Colo., Lasse Kjus and Hermann Maier shared victory, with Hans Knauss 0.01 behind in third. However, the fourth-place finisher in that race, Stephan Eberharter, was 0.22 back.

The top American finisher was Travis Ganong in seventh for his best career result.

There was also a downhill in Panorama, British Columbia, in 1992 won by William Besse, with Daniel Mahrer and Guenther Mader sharing second -- each 0.01 behind.

Among the women, there was a three-way victory in a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, in 2002 between Nicole Hosp, Tina Maze and Andrine Flemmen.

"It's for sure the tightest race I've ever been in," added Svindal, who sat out training Friday with a sore throat. "Obviously 0.01 is extremely tight and you wonder what you could have done to be faster than the winner, but that's always the case. The race is over. I had a good run and I'll take third place today."

Early, it looked like the race might be remembered as an Italian sweep, with Paris, Werner Hell and Christof Innerhofer sitting 1-2-3 through 13 starters. With Italian great Alberto Tomba on hand, the local fans were going wild.

Reichelt was then faster than Paris at each checkpoint, but he lost time on the bottom section and crossed dead even -- prompting the fans to cheer again.

Svindal made a slight error near the end of his run -- nearly going down on one hip -- but battled to regain his balance.

"It definitely wasn't my best turn on the hill, but I didn't crash and I saved a third place," Svindal said.

Svindal turned 30 earlier this week, came down with a sore throat.

"I tried warm up yesterday but it wasn't a good day for me," he said. "I decided if I wanted to have any chance, I needed to rest. I went to bed and read some books and rested up for today."

Svindal matched Michael Walchhofer's record from 2004 of six podiums in speed events before New Year's.

"I'm on a very good roll," Svindal said. "Every day other guys are fast, too, but I'm always right there."

With 674 points, Svindal also extended his overall lead ahead of Marcel Hirscher of Austria (560) and Ted Ligety (537) of the United States -- both technical specialists who did not race. He also still leads the downhill standings.

Kroell was the last of the favorites to ski and was 0.20 faster than the leaders at the final checkpoint. But when he crossed the line and saw the results board, he buried his face in his hands.

"Fourth is not bad, but it's not fair to lose by 0.02," Kroell said. "I don't have any joy at all. I'm the (fool) of the day. ... My finish was very bad."

Reichelt earned the first downhill win of his career. He has also won four super-G's and one giant slalom, and took silver in super-G at the last world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

"I see myself as an all-around racer," Reichelt said. "I can win in three disciplines."

Paris' only previous podium result was a second two seasons ago in a downhill in Chamonix, France. The Italian moved up to second in the downhill standings, 92 points behind Svindal.

It was the third speed victory for the Italian men's team this season, after Innerhofer won a downhill and Matteo Marsaglia took a super-G in Beaver Creek, Colo.

"We have a great group and we're always pushing each other," Paris said. "Winning my first race before my home fans is truly something special."

Ganong was pleased with his performance on the sun-splashed mountain.

"When I train I push it to a certain amount and it's smooth and fast and consistent, and I reached that level today," Ganong said.

Always known as one of the most physically demanding courses on the circuit, several racers fell as they battled exhaustion on the lower section.

Andrej Sporn of Slovenia was the first to go down, within sight of the finish. He got up and skied down under his own power. Joachim Puchner of Austria crashed into the nets but also appeared to escape serious injury.

In all, 11 racers failed to finish.

Ganong battled through fatigue near the end of his run.

"When I went off the San Pietro jump, I was (completely) dehydrated," said the skier from Squaw Valley, Calif. "Then my legs went numb and I just tried to stick on my line.

"But if you really just push two turns, that's the whole bottom part, so I really just saved my energy a little bit and pushed on those last two. I could barely stop when I crossed the finish line, but it was good and I was happy."

The next stop on the circuit is a special city event in Munich on New Year's Day for select athletes. Speed specialists have a break until the mid-January classic races in Wengen, Switzerland, and Kitzbuehel, Austria.