France's Deneriaz Wins Men's WC Downhill

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VAL GARDENA, Italy, Dec. 20 2003 (AP by Andrew Dampf) -- France's Antoine Deneriaz captured a World Cup downhill Saturday in which seven Austrians finished among the top 10. Deneriaz posted his third World Cup victory in defending last year's title on this course.

"It's for sure my biggest win so far," Deneriaz said. "Not just for the margin, but for beating the entire Austrian team."

He was followed by Austrians Michael Walchhofer and Hans Knauss. Daron Rahlves of the United States tied for seventh.

U.S. teammate Bryon Friedman, a World Cup newcomer, was 19th after finishing second in the final training run. Bode Miller, a top contender for the overall title, was 52nd.

Deneriaz covered the Saslong course in 1 minute, 52.99 seconds. Walchhofer finished 0.89 seconds behind and Knauss was 0.92 seconds back.

Deneriaz "was really by far the best today," Walchhofer said.

Three more Austrians _ Fritz Strobl, Hermann Maier and Stephan Eberharter _ rounded out the top six. Maier kept his lead in the overall standings.

The Val Gardena course perfectly suits Deneriaz's style.

"When I came back here after a bad week in Beaver Creek, (Colo.) I suddenly found all my confidence," he said. "I've been a good glider since I first started skiing. I don't know why, but it's instinctive for me."

Norway's Lasse Kjus, who won Friday's super giant slalom, came in 17th. Italy's Kristian Ghedina, aiming for a record fifth win on the Saslong, finished 11th.

Saturday's race was delayed several times when skiers fell and crashed.

On Sunday, the men's circuit heads to nearby Alta Badia for a giant slalom.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press