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Michael Walchhofer wins Val d'Isere training run; Justin Johnson fifth

Michael Walchhofer wins Val d’Isere training run; Justin Johnson fifthMichael Walchhofer of Austria won the Val d’Isere training run Friday the only training run before Saturday’s World Cup downhill at the French resort. Justin Johnson was the fastest American of the day, finishing a promising fifth.

Thursday’s training run was cancelled because of snowfall, but on Friday the sky was blue and the air was crisp and cold. 89 racers completed the long course. Many said that the new, cold snow crystals felt slow under their skis.

‘The piste is not so bad, but it’s a little bit slow’ said Walchhofer, the reigning World Cup downhill titlist, who left Beaver Creek early last week to spend time with his wife and twin children. ‘Two days I was with my family, and that was really good.’

Hermann Maier of Austria and Kristian Ghedina of Italy were second and third on the run, 0.25 and 0.33 seconds behind Walchhofer, who completed the Oreiller-Killy course in 2 minutes 3.47 seconds.

There are two men’s World Cup races this weekend: a downhill Saturday and a super combined on Sunday.

“J.J.” Johnson led the Americans with his fifth place finish. Bode Miller was 9th, Scott Macartney 17th, Daron Rahlves 34th, Steve Nyman 68th, Marco Sullivan 70th and Ted Ligety 77th.

‘I put a lot of pressure on myself’ said Johnson, who has had a string of good training runs this season, but has not yet put it together on race day. ‘Enough times like this and it should transfer over.’

Miller did not speak to the media after the race. He and Rahlves were met in Val d’Isere by their RVs, which they will travel in for the rest of the season.

For Nyman and Ligety, this is the first trip down the classic Val d’Isere track. Both Utahns the 2002 and 2004 Sprint/Ski Racing Juniors of the Year, respectively are planning to race the super combined on Sunday.

Missing from the start list at these races is Lasse Kjus, the Norwegian veteran, who chose to stay at home to train and test equipment.

Val d’Isere, France
Men’s downhill training run
Dec. 9, 2005

1.) Michael Walchhofer, AUT 2:03.47
2.) Hermann Maier, AUT 2:03.72
3.) Kristian Ghedina, ITA 2:03.80
4.) Klaus Kroell, AUT 2:03.06
5.) Justin Johnson, USA 2:04.26
9.) Bode Miller, USA 2:04.48
17.) Scott Macartney, USA 2:04.87
34.) Daron Rahvles, USA 2:05.67
66.) Steve Nyman, USA 2:06.81
68.) Marco Sullivan, USA 2:06.95
77.) Ted Ligety, USA 2:07.75

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