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December 28, 2006
BORMIO, ITALY – (USST News Bureau Release) – Michael Walchhofer won a World Cup downhill Thursday by one-hundredth of a second, ending a 13-race victory drought for the Austrians – a streak that included four wins by American racers. Top U.S. skier behind Walchhofer was Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) in 13th place. Racing resumed after the Christmas break with a makeup for a downhill lost earlier in the month in Val d’Isere, France, because of poor snow. Walchhofer took the lead for good on the last section of the 3K Stelvio course and was timed in 1:51.90 for his ninth World Cup win. World Cup DH points leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland was runnerup by the narrowest of margins. Sullivan’s time was 1:53.11 in the sunshine and 32-degree weather.
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Defending downhill world champion Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH), who won the downhill gold medal on the Stelvio track at the 2005 World Championships, had problems on the upper half of the course and failed to finish.
“A good day for Marco after struggling (Wednesday) in the training run…and JJ skied a lot better, especially at the top, than he’s been skiing, so that was good,” said DH Head Coach Chris Brigham. “Steven went down on his hip in the training run but he was very fast today, then made one big mistake in the middle, before the big jump, and he lost a lot of speed in there…
“Bormio’s done a great job of getting the race course ready,” Brigham said, adding the area “pretty much” resembles the 2005 World Championships where almost the only snow was on the race course. “The nice thing is we’ve got another race tomorrow, so it’s a good opportunity for us…and the guys want to takeadvantage of that.”
The men race a second downhill in Bormio Friday and then the men’s tour has another week’s break before racing a giant slalom and slalom Jan. 6-7 in Adelboden, Switzerland.