Switzerland's Beat Feuz claims downhill

WENGEN, Switzerland -- New Swiss ski star Beat Feuz won before his home fans Saturday, capturing a World Cup downhill on the classic Lauberhorn course while Bode Miller seemed poised to win but made a tactical error and finished fifth.

"It's a bummer," said Miller, a two-time Lauberhorn winner.

Feuz was timed in 2 minutes, 35.31 seconds on the longest course on the World Cup circuit for a victory that gave him the lead in the downhill standings in his breakout season. Austria's Hannes Reichelt was 0.44 seconds back in second. Christof Innerhofer of Italy trailed Feuz by 0.49 in third.

"It's unbelievable to win this race in front of the Swiss fans," said the 24-year-old Feuz, who was second in Friday's super-combined after dominating the downhill leg.

Miller was in excellent position but lost speed near the bottom and finished 0.77 back. Miller led the downhill standings going into this race but dropped to second, 41 points behind Feuz.

"I think (Feuz) is one of the best, well-rounded dynamos we have seen," Miller told The Associated Press. "It's not surprising to see him on the top today after the way he skied yesterday."

Miller said he took what proved to be the wrong line in the Hannegschuss section two minutes into his run, where skiers reach speeds of 93 mph.

"It probably cost me the race there," he said. "I swung out left and got right into all these bumps and my skis went a little bit crazy. You are too tired to make a good recovery. If you know a section you should trust yourself and I didn't do that today. It definitely cost me."

Swiss veteran Didier Cuche, racing immediately after Feuz, appeared cautious on the 2.75-mile track and trailed from the first intermediate time check, finishing 1.44 behind. It was his worst result in 11 downhill races since December 2010

A three-time runner-up on this course, Cuche's shoulders slumped when he crossed the line and he barely managed a rueful smile for fans chanting his name.

"I didn't have a good feeling when I got to the Hundschopf," Cuche said, referring to the cliff-face jump one-third down. "From there, I was very tense. I can't really explain it."

A record Wengen crowd of 38,000 lined the sun-soaked Lauberhorn hill with many hoping Cuche could get an elusive first victory in his Alpine nation's signature sports event.

At 37, he may have missed his last chance. Feuz hopes Cuche will "continue for one more year and give it another try."

Cuche has long been Switzerland's top downhill racer, with four World Cup titles in the glamour discipline in the past five years. But now his standing seems under threat. Feuz leads the downhill points race after finishing runner-up to Cuche at Lake Louise, Alberta, and behind Miller at Beaver Creek, Colo.

He climbed to third in the overall standings behind Marcel Hirscher and Ivica Kostelic after his third World Cup victory. He also won the downhill at Kvitfjell, Norway, last season and the super-G last month at Val Gardena, Italy.

Feuz is fulfilling the potential he showed in winning three gold medals, including downhill, at the 2007 junior world championships. Injuries forced him to miss the next two seasons of World Cup racing. He spent the time concentrating on his skills and conditioning.

"I think the technique that I worked on is now showing and it was a good thing (to be injured)," he said.

With race conditions excellent, Louis-Pierre Helie of Canada was the only one of 58 starters who did not complete the tiring course.