Mon, Jan 17, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Walchhofer finally wins downhill after a two-year wait

AP , WENGEN, SWITZERLAND

Patience finally paid off for Michael Walchhofer, who won a World Cup downhill for the first time in two years.

The win was worth the wait, coming on the famed Lauberhorn, the longest course on the circuit, which was celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Walchhofer negotiated the wide variety of features and challenges on the 4.5km course in 2 minutes, 27.05 seconds Saturday, 0.09 ahead of teammate Christoph Gruber.

Walchhofer, the reigning downhill world champion, had previously climbed the podium five times in six downhills this season, but the win had eluded him until now. It was the second World Cup downhill win of his career.

"I have patience," said Walchhofer, who climbed the podium in six of seven downhills this season. "But I knew I was in great shape and it was only a question of time before I won a downhill.

"I was given a book on the anniversary of the Lauberhorn. It's such a great race and I thought this would be a great place to start winning. On the helicopter ride back into town after the race, we flew over the course. It's such a historic place. And as I looked at it, I thought 'I was fastest on that course.' It was very emotional."

Bode Miller managed a third-place finish despite skipping the morning inspection run, preventing an Austrian sweep of the top-four places when he crossed 0.18 behind the winner.

"I slept until 9am, read my book, had some food," said Miller, who was forced to leave his RV below in Lauterbrunen and stay in the team hotel, as the car-free resort is only reachable by cog-rail.

"Sometimes two or three inspections really helps to get your reference points. But here it's the flow that really counts. And if you inspect it slowly right before the race, you don't get the feel of the course flow."

The American stretched his lead in the overall World Cup standings to 258 points. Second-place Benjamin Raich of Austria gained 100 points on Miller after winning Friday's super-combined race, but didn't start Saturday.

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