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 this course for the fourth time.
Ghedina, who is from nearby Cortina d'Ampezzo, matched the record for most Val Gardena victories set by Franz Klammer. The Austrian great 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.
Austria's Craig Branch tumbled near the top of the course. He was brought to the hospital with what organizers said were minor injuries to his nose and mouth.
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.
``The course was tough today, very icy,'' Kjus said. ``I know I lost time coming around the last curve.''
Stephan Eberharter of Austria, winner of the downhill and super-G in Val d'Isere, finished fourth in 2:02.36.
Ebherharter has 390 points and leads the overall standings, 65 points ahead of Miller, who did not race Saturday.
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.
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press