December 14, 2016

VAL D'ISERE, France (AP) Bidding to win the downhill at Val d'Isere for the third time in her career, defending World Cup champion Lara Gut looked in dominant form as she posted the fastest time in a training run on Wednesday.

The Swiss skier powered down the 2.9-kilometer Oreiller Killy course in French Alpine resort in 1 minute, 46.90 seconds - finishing more than 1 second quicker than Slovenian rival Ilka Stuhec and Austrian Ramona Siebenhofer.

Italian Sofia Goggia was fourth quickest, 1.27 seconds behind Gut - who won the downhill here last year and also in 2012 at the French Alpine resort.

Gut is second in the overall standings heading into this weekend's races, 105 points behind American Mikaela Shiffrin.

But considering that Shiffrin is not competing in downhill, Gut has a good chance to reclaim first place.

After another training run on Thursday, there is an Alpine combined race on Friday, a downhill on Saturday and a super-G on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Gut clinched a downhill and Alpine Combined double at Val d'Isere last year.

So far this season, she has won a GS and a super-G race, taking her career tally of wins to 20 from a total 37 podium finishes. She has 11 podiums in downhill.

In the absence of American downhill star Lindsey Vonn - who broke an arm in training last month - Gut stands a good chance of winning her first downhill of the season this season, having finished fourth and second at Lake Louise, Canada earlier this month. But she faces stiff competition from the rapidly improving Stuhec, who won both of those races for her breakthrough wins on the World Cup circuit.

Gut, who has also twice won the overall super-G World Cup title, has a good record at Val d'Isere with five podium finishes.

Back in December, 2010, she placed third in downhill and then finished second in GS three years ago.

American Laurenne Ross was eighth fastest on Wednesday, nearly two seconds behind Gut.

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