Ghedina fastest in downhill training

Italy's Kristian Ghedina posted the quickest time in downhill training in Val d'Isere today, finishing ahead of a four-man Austrian sequence.

Italy's Kristian Ghedina posted the quickest time in downhill training in Val d'Isere today, finishing ahead of a four-man Austrian sequence.

Ghedina, who crossed in 1 minute, 59.39 seconds, will be seeking his first victory in almost a year.

"I'm very satisfied with my run," said Ghedina, who has 10 career downhill wins. "I haven't been doing well recently and this is a big boost to my confidence.

"I really want to win Sunday's downhill to finally kick-start my season."

Double Olympic and world champion Hermann Maier and teammate Roland Assinger had the second-best time, both crossing in 1:59.88, ahead of compatriots Werner Franz, half a second adrift, and Stephan Eberharter, who was fifth-fastest in 2:00.03.

In all, six Austrians finished among the top-10.

"To beat the Austrians, it's not enough just to ski well," said Ghedina. "You have to really attack. That is the only way to beat them."

The four Austrians were followed by a pair of Canadians, with Kevin Wert timed at 2:00.12 and Darin McBeath at 2:00.38.

Reigning overall World Cup champion Lasse Kjus of Norway ranked eighth with a time of 2:00.58.

The Americans, whose equipment was lost on the flight over to Europe, were forced to borrow gear left, right and center in order to run.

Chad Fleischer of Vail, who finished second in the final downhill last season, was clad in a random assortment of equipment belonging to various teams.

"I was wearing skis from the Austrian team, had Hermann's (Maier) poles, and borrowed a yellow racing suit from the Canadians," said Fleischer. "I was also wearing some yellow Austrian helmet instead of my snow leopard one.

"It was pretty funny, and everybody was laughing at us," he said. "Everyone was doing double takes. No one could recognize us."

But racing on unfamiliar skis slowed the Americans, with Fleischer finishing a distant 38th in 2:02.17, almost three seconds off the pace.

Daron Rahlves of Truckee, Calif., using equipment from the Norwegian and Canadian teams, was 51st in 2:03.76, while Christopher Puckett, wearing "Canadian everything," trailed in 60th place, almost five seconds back.

"Even we couldn't recognized each other among ourselves," Fleischer laughed.

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