Gut makes World Cup overall skiing title official

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ST. MORITZ, Switzerland (AP) Lara Gut made her World Cup overall title official despite finishing 13th in difficult conditions in the last downhill of the season on Wednesday.

Lindsey Vonn flew in to collect her eighth crystal globe in the discipline on a snowy opening day at the World Cup finals, and Peter Fill became the first Italian to win the men's downhill title.

Although Gut's title - the first for a Swiss woman in 21 years - was effectively sealed last weekend at nearby Lenzerheide, it became a mathematical certainty in front of more home fans in St. Moritz.

Fill started the race level on points with Aksel Lund Svindal, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since January, and four points above Dominik Paris, who was not at his best after crashing in training on Tuesday and injuring his thigh and knee.

Paris, who won the past two downhills, attacked at the start but was clearly struggling and finished 19th on the tricky Corviglia course in falling snow. Fill was last to go and he just needed to finish safely to clinch the title - but he did not know that.

He crossed the line in 10th, and only after American rival Steven Nyman told him he was the newly crowned king of skiing's marquee event did Fill fall to his knees with his head in his hands and become teary.

''It wasn't an easy race for me going last, the tension and everything,'' he said. ''I was on top on a corner alone and I knew nothing, no results from the other guys. I only knew when Steven Nyman told me, `You've won.' I think everyone could see my emotions.''

Beat Feuz of Switzerland won the race, finishing just 0.08 seconds slower than Nyman, who clinched a fourth successive podium. Erik Guay of Canada was third, 0.54 off the pace.

Mirjam Puchner won the women's race on the Engianda course to claim her first downhill victory. The Austrian beat Fabienne Suter of Switzerland by 0.13 seconds, with Elena Curtoni of Italy third, 0.17 behind.

It was a first podium for both Puchner and Curtoni.

Vonn clinched the downhill title before her crash in a super-G in Andorra last month, and was in St. Moritz to pick up her 20th crystal globe.

''I feel like I had a really great year,'' Vonn said. ''Nine wins, and to be able to still take home one globe at least, even though I had to end my season early, it means a lot because you work so hard and I was so close. I was leading four titles when I got hurt so to still have at least one, that was huge.''

Gut is only 19 points behind Vonn in the super-G standings, with the final race on Thursday.

''I don't think super-G will hold but weirder things have happened in skiing,'' Vonn said. ''I'll be at the finish tomorrow and maybe a miracle will happen.''

Vonn will be hoping to have an easier time getting into the finish area than she had on Wednesday, when she was turned away by two security guards for not having the right accreditation.

''The Swiss are all about the rules,'' Vonn said. ''I had two people not let me in so I had to ask for a different pass. Apparently an athlete's pass isn't enough to get you into the finish.''