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Werner Heel wins World Cup downhill ahead of Bode Miller

Werner Heel wins World Cup downhill ahead of Bode Miller

Italian skier Werner Heel won a downhill on Kvitfjell's Olympic course on Friday for his first World Cup victory, edging Bode Miller by 0.10 seconds.
Heel, who was only 21st in the downhill standings going into the race, sped down the 3,035-meter course in 1 minute, 45.73 seconds.
"I had a good feeling from top to bottom, but I really did not expect to win," said Heel, the first Italian downhill winner at Kvitfjell. "It was a perfect day. It's a nice location and nice people here. ... Fantastic!"
The 25-year-old Heel, a late bloomer who has competed only three years on the World Cup circuit, skied Kvitfjell for the first time last season.
"Last year, I was ninth in the downhill and now victory," he said. "It's great. My goal was to make the top 10. I did not make any mistakes at all today. It was a perfect run."
Heel's previous career-best was a sixth-place finish in the season-opener at Lake Louise, Canada.
The last Italian to win a men's World Cup downhill was Kristian Ghedina in 2001.
For Miller, who won two other downhills this season, it was the first podium finish at Kvitfjell, where fellow American Tommy Moe won Olympic gold in 1994.
"I was generally pretty happy with it," Miller said. "It's hard for me with one training run trying to go 100 percent. It helps me if I have two or even three training runs to sort the course out. Then in general I can go 100 percent pretty comfortably.
"I knew coming in here it was going to be a challenge. I had a lot of small mistakes. I was not very comfortable when I got across the finish line that it was going to be the winning run."
Another downhill is scheduled for Saturday.
"There are a lot of guys who can win here," Miller said. "The hill favors technical skiing, but it's not overly challenging. Today was good for information gathering. I learned a lot. Hopefully I will ski a lot better tomorrow. But it's still anybody's race."
Klaus Kroell of Austria was third, 0.22 behind.
With his second place, Miller increased his overall lead over Benjamin Raich of Austria, who scores most of his points in the technical disciplines. Raich finished 37th and out of the points in Friday's race.
Miller moved to 1,183 points while Raich stayed at 1,058.
"I don't really think about it (the overall) much right now," said Miller, who in 2005 became the first American since Phil Mahre in 1983 to win the men's overall title. "I was hoping to win today, I hope to win tomorrow.
"I pretty much hope I win every day. That could make a good season at the end of the year and hopefully win the overall. But it does not do any good to think about it now."
In the downhill standings, sixth-placed Didier Cuche of Switzerland leads Miller 504 points to 479.
Marco Sullivan of the United States, who won his first World Cup downhill in late January, hit a gate early in the race and crashed into a safety net with his back first. Sullivan escaped unhurt.
Friday's downhill replaced a race that was canceled at Val d'Isere, France, earlier this month.
The meet concludes with a super-G on Sunday on the same Kvitfjell course, which hosted the men's speed events during the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.


Updated : 2021-07-28 03:02 GMT+08:00