Italy’s Peter Fill survived a fierce late challenge from Swiss Carlo Janka to capture the Lake Louise downhill and post his first career World Cup win on Saturday.
“It is a big surprise,” Fill said. “It is my first victory. I had good conditions, so I tried to go as fast as I could.”
Fill, who was runner-up in the Lake Louise downhill two years ago, finished ahead of storming Janka and Sweden’s Hans Olsson in the season-opening downhill.
Despite starting from the 65th position, Janka stunned the field by vaulting into second place and bumping Austrian Georg Streitberger off the podium.
The men will be back on the Canadian course yesterday for the season’s first super-G.
It took the 26-year-old Fill eight years on the World Cup circuit to register his first victory. He clocked one minute, 47.40 seconds, just eight one-hundredths of a second ahead of Janka.
Olsson, who wore bib number 10, took third in 1:47.56 while Streitberger (1:47.61) was fourth.
Fill benefited from an early starting position as the Whitehorn Mountain course became more difficult for the majority of later skiers.
Fill was able to charge through the icy Coaches’ Corner section, which gave so many other racers trouble after the sun tucked in behind the clouds and the turn became increasingly bumpy.
Janka shot out of the starting gate just as the sun reappeared and made the most of it.
The 22-year-old from Obersaxen posted his first podium finish in just his first full season on the World Cup.
Fill said he waited on pins and needles while watching Janka charge down the course.
Markus Foser holds the record for the highest bib number to finish first in downhill when he won in the 1993 Val Gardena, Italy race while starting from the 66th spot.
Olsson, 24, is the first Swedish skier to finish on the podium in a World Cup downhill.
■ WOMEN’S GIANT SLALOM
AFP, ASPEN, Colorado
French teenager Tessa Worley captured the first World Cup victory of her young career on Saturday, winning a giant slalom ahead of Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen and Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl.
Worley, who was lying sixth after the first leg, turned in a storming second leg to win in a combined time of 2 minutes 12.86 seconds.
She defied difficult conditions to finish 28 one-hundredths of a second ahead of Poutiainen and 71 one-hundredths in front of Goergl, two of the discipline’s top racers.
American Lindsey Vonn finished fourth and surrendered her lead atop the overall standings to Poutiainen, who has started the season with two podium finishes in three races.
Karbon, who led the way in the first leg, was slowed by a mistake on her second run and settled for 15th place.
Worley was thrilled by her surprise triumph.
“This victory is very important for me because of the World Championships in Val d’Isere,” she said, already looking ahead to the championships in her homeland in February.
■ MEN’S SKI JUMP
Former Olympic champion Simon Ammann of Switzerland won the opening round of the ski jumping World Cup at Kuusamo in Finland on Saturday, while defending champion Thomas Morgenstern of Austria was fourth.
Ammann, the double Olympic champion in 2002, recorded jumps of 131m and 126.5m (280.5 points) for his fourth career success in the World Cup.