Austria's Kroell Fastest in Downhill Run


February 10, 2006

SESTRIERE, Italy (AP by Erica Bulman)—Klaus Kroell clocked the fastest training time Friday to secure the final berth on Austria’s Olympic downhill team.

Kroell, who was vying with four other Austrians for the team’s final spot in Sunday’s downhill, tore down the Kandahar Banchetta course in 1 minute, 49.75 seconds.

“My dream was to be on the Olympic team and now I’m going to go for a medal, Kroell said following his run.

Fellow Austrian and reigning Olympic champion Fritz Strobl was .36 seconds back, followed by Switzerland’s Bruno Kernen, who seemed to have recovered from recent knee pains.

American Daron Rahlves, the last man to win a World Cup downhill on this course two seasons ago and the fastest during opening training Thursday, opted to skip the second day of training.

Kroell was competing for his team’s fourth spot against Andreas Buder, Hannes Reichelt, Rainer Schoenfelder and Benjamin Raich _ the overall World Cup points leader this season.

“It was not clear until today who we would chose, said Austrian alpine director Hans Pum. “Buder and Kroell had a bonus from their World Cup results, but now it’s clear who must start.

The consistent Kroell, 25, finished fourth in Thursday’s opening training run. He placed second in the last World Cup downhill and has four top-10 World Cup downhill finishes this season.

Tired from training, traveling and a sore throat that nagged him the last two weeks, Rahlves could afford a day’s rest. He is scheduled to ski the last official practice Saturday, the runs that will decide the starting order for the gold-medal race, with the top 30 finishers starting in reverse order.

Like the Austrians, the U.S. team also filled a berth. Steven Nyman finished 11th to join Rahlves and Bode Miller on Sunday.

Nyman beat out Americans Scott Macartney and Marco Sullivan to lock up the spot. Macartney and Sullivan will ski-off in Saturday’s practice for the fourth and final berth.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press