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Val Gardena, Italy, Dec. 17 (AP by Vania Grandi)–Italy’s Kristian Ghedina won a fast and bumpy World Cup downhill by a whopping 1.35 seconds today.
It was Ghedina’s 11th career victory, his third on Val Gardena’s Saslong course.
He was timed in 2 minutes, 2.99 seconds.
“I can’t believe I was so fast,” Ghedina said. “I got thrown back on one corner and lost a lot of time.”
Austrian Josef Strobl, winner of five World Cup events, was second at 2:04.34. Strobl finished third earlier this month in a downhill at Lake Louise, Canada.
Ed Podivinsky of Canada _ racing on the course where he tore a knee ligament last year _ was a surprising third at 2:04.37. Podivinsky was sidelined for a year and returned to the tour last month.
Winner of a World Cup race in 1994, Podivinsky last stood on the podium in 1998 after finishing third in a downhill at Kitzbuhel, Austria.
Hermann Maier, the World Cup downhill, super-G and overall leader, finished sixth _ beaten by three of his Austrian teammates.
“I chose the wrong skis,” Maier said. “But even if I had skied a few tenths faster there is no way I could catch Ghedina.”
Maier lost his balance several times, nearly falling on the final bump before the finish line. He got thrown backwards and had to squat on his skis before regaining his tuck position.
Maier has dominated the men’s tour the past two years. He has five victories and one second this season.
The Austrian, a double Olympic and World champion, is determined to regain the overall World Cup title he lost last year to Norway’s Lasse Kjus. With a nearly 200-point lead, he is well on his way to doing so.
Kjus, winner of a record five medals at the World Championships last year, had the flu and did not compete Friday.
The powerful Austrian team, winner of six of nine events this season, had another good day. Six Austrians finished in the top 10.
The race made up for a downhill canceled two weeks ago at Val D’Isere, France, because of heavy snow. Another downhill is scheduled at this Alpine resort Saturday, followed by a giant slalom in nearby Alta Badia on Sunday.
Copyright (c) 1999 The Associated Press