Ghedina Wins at Gardena

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Val Gardena, Italy, Dec. 14, 2001 (AP by Jeff Israely)--Italy's Kristian Ghedina edged Norway's Lasse Kjus on Friday to win a World Cup downhill on a course that has become a second home.

Ghedina, who is from nearby Cortina d'Ampezzo, matched the record set by Austrian great Franz Klammer with a fourth downhill at Val Gardena. Klammer last won on this course in 1982.

The United States was unable to crack the top 30 in the downhill following Bode Miller's victories in the last two World Cup gate races. Two American entries, Marco Sullivan and Casey Puckett, failed to finish.

Ghedina completed the icy run in 2 minutes, 1.47 seconds. Kjus was second in 2:01.63 and Kurt Sulzenbacher of Italy was third in 2:02.20.

``I skied very well today,'' Ghedina said. ``I'm always happy to win at home.''

He will be looking for the 13th World Cup downhill victory of his career Saturday on the same course.

``Now I've reached Klammer,'' Ghedina said. ``So tomorrow I can go out and see if I can do it again.''

The victory came less than a week after Silvano Beltrametti of Switzerland was paralyzed in a high-speed crash during the season's opening downhill in Val d'Isere, France.

Safety was stepped up, with organizers lining the course with blue stripes to help the skiers' vision in shadowy portions of the slope.

Kjus, starting from the 20th position, had an edge on Ghedina midway through his run but finished 0.16 seconds behind. Sulzenbacher took third after finishing runner-up in last weekend's downhill.

Stephan Eberharter of Austria, winner of the downhill and super-G in Val d'Isere, finished fourth in 2:02.36.

Eberharter hopes to supplant Austrian star Herman Maier, who said Thursday he doesn't expect to return in time for February's Salt Lake City Olympics following a motorcycle accident last summer.