Christof Innerhofer of Italy notched his first World Cup victory on Sunday in the year-ending downhill, while Bode Miller finished fourth after securing a better starting spot at the cost of a pre-race penalty.
Innerhofer timed 2 minutes, 3.55 seconds down the 3.2km Stelvio course, which was icier and harder than usual this year.
Klaus Kroell finished second, 0.32 seconds behind, and fellow Austrian Michael Walchhofer was third, 0.95 back. Miller finished 1.15 seconds behind.
Miller missed Saturday’s compulsory bib draw and received a fine of 999 Swiss Francs (US$933) and the No. 46 starting spot, when better light was expected. The top skiers are normally drawn among the first 25 starters. Miller explained his absence by saying he was getting medical attention, adding that he didn’t mind being penalized.
“It was more my wrist is busted up and I needed to get it fixed,” he said. “I wasn’t worried about the repercussions.”
Miller, who started long after the other main contenders, missed his chance of a podium place after slamming into a gate on the upper section of the course.
“It just knocked the wind out of me a little bit and distracted me,” Miller said. “It got me pretty good. I got a little too tight in on it and just went straight through the middle of it.”
Miller was faster than Innerhofer through the first two time checks before the error, and was on pace to finish third at the final checkpoint before a slight error in the lower section.
“The top was what affected me more for the bottom, because you use up so much energy trying to make a recovery from what happened on the top that it cost me that little bit of energy you need to be smooth on the bottom,” he said.
Two skiers crashed — Marco Marsaglia of Italy and Bryon Friedman of the US. Both appeared to avoid any serious injuries, though the subsequent delays pushed back Miller’s start even later.
Innerhofer, 24, was the first skier out of the gate.
“I was very nervous waiting for Bode Miller,” Innerhofer said. “He had an incredible run.”
Miller won the downhill last year and took gold in both the downhill and super-G at the 2005 world championships held in Bormio.
“If anyone could do it, he could, but today was my day,” Innerhofer said.
The sun came out for the later starters and Miller had clearer conditions when he skied.
“In the end, there wasn’t much difference,” said Innerhofer, whose best previous result was fourth in the super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado, earlier this month.
Walchhofer retained a 225-215 lead over Kroell in the downhill standings and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway kept a 444-393 advantage over Benjamin Raich in the overall ranks. Svindal finished 17th.
■WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
AFP, SEMMERING, AUSTRIA
Kathrin Zettel of Australia won the women’s World Cup giant slalom event on Sunday for the second time in three years ahead of Italian Manuela Molgg and Lara Gut of Switzerland.
Second after the first run, the 22-year-old Zettel made up the difference on early leader Molgg to win in 2 minutes 10.9 seconds.
The Italian finished second at 0.37sec, with Gut, aged just 17, posting the quickest second run for a shock third finish, 0.55sec adrift of Zettel.
Zettel said it was wonderful to have repeated her win from 2006.
“It is great to win twice at home,” gushed Zettel. “I was happy with my first leg run. I prefer to be the hunter rather than the hunted. On the second run I knew that Lara had skied really well. But I was really focussed.”