Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal wins downhill

Updated: November 24, 2012, 7:54 PM ET
Associated Press

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta -- Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal won the season-opening World Cup men's downhill Saturday, beating Austria's Max Franz by 0.64 seconds.

Svindal finished the Olympic course in 1 minute, 48.31 seconds.

American Marco Sullivan and Austria's Klaus Kroell tied for third at 1:48.97. Sullivan started well back in the field in the 42nd position.

"I was definitely stunned," said Sullivan, from Squaw Valley, Calif. "I knew I had had a good run. I didn't have any expectations crossing the finish line. I was enjoying the run, enjoying the skiing. When I saw third place up there, it was kind of surreal. I don't really remember the next couple of minutes."

Franz was the third man down the mountain and was the fastest deep into the starting lineup. Svindal, 22nd in the starting order, took a reading off Canadian Erik Guay's run in the 20th spot.

"I asked the Canadians how Erik did when he was going, if he was matching up with times or losing anywhere," Svindal said. "He's a good skier and if he lost a lot in a section without a mistake, then obviously it would be the conditions. He was right there, so I was like `OK, it's still possible.' But you definitely have to put one down. I figured I had to risk if I wanted to try and get this win."

Svindal won for the fourth time at Lake Louise following three super-G wins.

Guay was sixth.

"The Canadians do well in Norway and we usually do well in Canada. It's a good working relationship," Svindal said. "It has to do with latitude obviously, but this is more similar to Norway than a lot of the places we go in Europe."

The super-G race is Sunday. Svindal won that race last year.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle was second among the Americans, finishing 25th at 1:50.61. Travis Ganong was 39th, Steven Nyman 40th, and Andrew Weibrecht failed to finish.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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