December 04, 2015

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) There were times when Aksel Lund Svindal wanted to slow down just a little bit, because the course was becoming way too harrowing for his comfort.

Couldn't afford to, though. Not with Norwegian teammate Kjetil Jansrud still to race. So Svindal pushed and pushed, warding off the nerves that ultimately gave him a stomach ache but did culminate with a downhill win.

Svindal captured his third straight World Cup race with a smooth run through a sun-splashed course Friday. He finished in 1 minute, 42.34 seconds to hold off Jansrud by 0.30 seconds. Guillermo Fayed of France was third.

Still, it was a daunting ride.

''It's so fast and that middle section - it's kind of risky,'' Svindal said. ''I still have stomach pain, because I knew I had to charge hard in that section if I wanted to win, but I didn't feel like it. Every sense in your body is telling you to slow down a bit.''

The 32-year-old Svindal is quickly making up for lost time as he returns to the World Cup circuit after tearing his Achilles tendon last season. He captured both races in Lake Louise a week ago.

Before Svindal was sidelined, the speed show was all his. In his absence, it's turned into Jansrud's domain as he took the World Cup super-G and downhill titles last season from Svindal.

No surprise, Svindal wants them back.

But there's not a trace of animosity between these two good friends. They feed off each other, in training and especially in races.

''It's good to have your training partner as the world No. 1,'' Svindal said. ''We've been switching back and forth who's faster in training. ... No one wants to be behind.''

Jansrud couldn't agree more and is quite impressed with how fast Svindal has rounded back into top form.

''There's no magic to it,'' Jansrud said. ''It's just you get the ball rolling and stay with it. I knew that today, if anyone was going to pull off a race (like that) - do a better run - it would be Aksel. It's impressive.''

The Birds of Prey course was icier than usual and had more bite to it. So much so that Svindal contemplated applying the brakes in a few places - a definite no-no for a downhiller.

He didn't listen and wound up with the win for a fifth time in Beaver Creek.

This is a hill that certainly holds many pleasant memories for him - and some not-so-fond ones.

In 2007, he crashed at Beaver Creek when he lost control over a jump and landed in the safety netting, breaking bones in his face and suffering a laceration to his groin and abdominal area. Svindal returned the next season and captured his second overall title.

He's come back stronger than ever from the Achilles injury he suffered while juggling a soccer ball.

''Being injured, as long as you're able to recover 100 percent, it's good for your mind, because you get some perspective,'' said Svindal, who will be the favorite in Saturday's super-G race. ''You can look out in the world and see what else is going on.''

Jansrud was the defending champion at Birds of Prey and the favorite, especially after winning both training runs.

''It was tough, but I skied good,'' Jansrud said. ''I'm happy with the day.''

One of the performances of the afternoon belonged to American Andrew Weibrecht, who started way back in 34th and finished tied for fifth. The skier nicknamed ''War Horse'' attacked the course and received high-fives from fellow ski racers in the finish area after his run.

He's done this sort of thing at Bird of Prey before - in 2007 he started 53rd and finished 10th.

For being able to charge like he did, Weibrecht thanked teammate Travis Ganong, who sent up a flawless scouting report after his run.

''It was definitely icier and a little more rattle-y. Stuff was coming at you,'' Weibrecht said. ''The bumps were kicking you a little more than they had the previous days. Perfect report. Got me in the mind-set and I just sent it.''

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