VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) — Defending overall World Cup champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won the classic Saslong downhill on Saturday for his second win in two days.
After triumphing in Friday’s super-G, the Norwegian finished the downhill against a backdrop of the Italian Alps 0.22 seconds ahead of Ryan Cochran-Siegle.
The American earned his first career podium finish as he led a strong showing by the U.S. ski team, with Bryce Bennett in fourth, Jared Goldberg in sixth and Travis Ganong in 14th.
In his nine-year World Cup career, Cochran-Siegle had previously racked up five top-10 results, including an eighth place in Saturday’s super-G.
The American’s first podium came 50 years after his mother, 1972 Olympic slalom champion Barbara Cochran, won a silver medal at the 1970 Alpine skiing world championships at the same resort in northern Italy.
Former downhill world champion Beat Feuz of Switzerland trailed by 0.54 in third, and Kilde’s Norwegian teammate, Kjetil Jansrud, shared fourth place with Bennett.
The back-to-back wins propelled Kilde into the lead of the overall standings, ahead of Marco Odermatt and Alexis Pinturault.
Kilde won just one race in the entire last season. Still, he won the overall title as Marcel Hirscher’s successor after the record eight-time overall champion Austrian’s retirement.
“My skiing is even better this season. The speed is there. And I have more experience now. It’s just cool,” Kilde said.
The Norwegian didn’t want to read too much into his return to the top of the standings.
Last season, Kilde edged Pinturault and his Norwegian teammate, Henrik Kristoffersen, for the sport’s biggest prize.
“In Alta Badia they will be winning again for sure. So, it’s going to be a real fight again,” said Kilde, referring to the Italian venue that will host a giant slalom Sunday.
Italy is hosting five World Cup races in as many days, with slaloms coming up in Alta Badia on Monday and Madonna di Campiglio the next day.
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