Franz Leads Downhill Training Run

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St. Anton, Austria Jan. 31, 2001 (FIS)--The men had chance to check out the downhill course today, in their first day of training for the World Championship title, in St Anton, Austria.

The downhill course was designed by, and named after, Karl Schranz ¿ one of Austria's most famous skiing figures.

The fastest racer down the course during training today was Austrian Werner Franz, clocking a time of one minute 55.04 seconds. The 28-year-old's best downhill results this season have been a fifth and a seventh in the World Cup, but he does have a second placing from the 1999 season, in Valgardena.

The second quickest time belongs to Switzerland's Didier Cuche who came down in 1:55.58 while Austrian Fritz Strobl clocked 1:55.94. Strobl was the winner of the last World Cup downhill held in Garmisch, before the World Championships began.

Downhill World Champion title holder, Hermman Maier of Austria, came down in a time of 1:56.13, the fourth fastest of the day.

Silvano Beltrametti of Switzerland, skiing with a small fracture on his right hand gained after hitting a gate during yesterday's super-G, gained the fifth fastest time.

American Daron Rahlves, winner of yesterday's World Championship super-G title, managed the ninth quickest time of 1:57.06. After yesterday's action Rahlves said he was still "feeling a bit tired".

"The phone calls last night were non-stop. I didn't have much fun," he said. One of the phone calls he received was from the Austrian president, but not President Bush.