Antoine Deneriaz wins first training run at Lake LouiseAntoine Deneriaz of France, the downhiller who sat out half of last season with a knee injury, was the fastest man in Wednesday’s training run at Lake Louise, the Canadian resort that hosts the first downhill of the season on Saturday.
The course’s reputation for rewarding big skiers and those with gliding skills was confirmed, as three of the biggest skiers on the tour took the top three positions.
Deneriaz (214 pounds) completed the course in 1 minute, 40.12 seconds, finding half a second against Michael Walchhofer of Austria (223 pounds). Third place, 0.61 back, was Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein (220 pounds).
The fastest American on the hill was reigning overall champion Bode Miller, who was seventh with a time of 1:41.06 (94 hundredths off the pace). Justin Johnson was 11th, Daron Rahlves 29th, Marco Sullivan 30th, Scott Macartney 32nd and Steve Nyman 37th.
Three other Americans in the race: Chris Beckmann, Erik Fisher and Kevin Francis. Of the three, only Francis has raced a World Cup before (the Lake Louise and Beaver Creek downhills in 2003).
The three were held at the start during a long course hold as Olivier Brand of Switzerland, bib 61, was evacuated from the hill by helicopter. Brand later was diagnosed with a broken left ankle.
Francis finished 58th, Fisher 59th and Beckmann 64th. It was Sullivan’s first trip down a World Cup course after two consecutive seasons of knee injuries kept him out of competition. It was also the first time Pepi Strobl appeared in a course in the Slovenian uniform, having changed his citizenship last year before an injury sidelined him.
Because of limited snowcover on the top of the mountain, the race began at the exit of Sunset Gully, which will make Saturday’s race roughly eight seconds shorter than last year’s, according to FIS race director Guenter Hujara. The racers lose one jump