Italy's Paris wins, sets up close fight for downhill title
KVITFJELL, Norway (AP) Dominik Paris won the next-to-last downhill of the World Cup season Saturday, leaving the fight for the discipline title wide open.
Paris trails Italian teammate Peter Fill by four points going into the final race at St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
Fill has 436 points and shares the lead with Aksel Lund Svindal. The Norwegian, however, is out for the season after knee surgery following a crash at the Jan. 23 downhill in Kitzbuehel, which Fill won.
Other contenders are Kjetil Jansrud of Norway and Adrien Theaux of France, who are 54 and 66 points behind, respectively.
''The best should win. We're all very close now so it's going to be a tough and interesting fight,'' said Fill, who can become the first Italian winner of the globe for the season's best downhill racer.
''It's one of the biggest prizes in ski racing,'' Fill said. ''To me it would mean more than an Olympic gold medal, a world title or a victory in Kitzbuehel.''
Paris won Saturday's race 0.20 seconds ahead of Valentin Giraud Moine of France and 0.24 ahead of Steven Nyman of the United States. Paris also triumphed in Chamonix, France, last month and became the first Italian skier to win back-to-back downhills since Kristian Ghedina won twice in January 1997.
Before the race, organizers lowered a jump after Guillermo Fayed of France tore ligaments in his right knee in a training crash Friday.
Fill, who led Thursday's first training on the Olympiabakken course, finished the race in 10th, 0.98 behind Paris.
''I definitely expected more after coming first and third in the trainings,'' Fill said. ''But I almost went out at the first turn and lost too much time there.''
Teammate Paris, who started just before Fill, also wasn't clean in the upper part. He still trailed then-leader Nyman by 0.13 at the last split time but accelerated for a strong finish while going 135 kph (83.9 mph).
''It went pretty well. I had a good feeling and it was fun to ski,'' Paris said after his sixth career victory.
The first starter of the top group, Nyman grabbed the lead with an attacking run.
Jansrud, who led Friday's final training, started faster and led the American by 0.36 at one point. But the Norwegian lost almost a half-second on Nyman in the bottom part and ultimately shared fifth with Beat Feuz of Switzerland.
Jansrud can still retain his downhill title this season if he wins the last race and his rivals finish outside the top four.
''It's going to be tight being more than 50 points behind but there is still hope,'' the Norwegian said.
Nyman's teammate Marco Sullivan, who finished 18th, competed in his 105th career downhill, the most for an American skier. He overtook Bode Miller, who has 104 World Cup starts in the sport's marquee event.
The race took place in perfect, sunny conditions after fog forced a delay of the start by a half-hour.
A super-G on the same course is scheduled for Sunday.