Skiing: Scot gets off to flying start

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THE DEFENDING men's downhill champion, Andrew Freshwater, produced an outstanding performance in yesterday's start to the 1999 British Land National Ski Championships in Tignes, France.

In very windy conditions 25-year-old Freshwater, from Scotland, set the fastest time of the day, 1min 24.10secs, ahead of France's Gilles Escande and Justin Johnson of the United States.

The rising talent in British skiing was evident when the two 20-year- olds, Ross Green, from Aberdeen, and Johnny Moulder Brown, from London, finished fifth and 18th respectively in a strong international field.

Freshwater said: "The visibility was very bad, with wind-blown snow causing a lot of problems. The wind and soft snow resulted in some slower times than expected, although I felt comfortable and have possibly gained the mental edge over other competitors. Today's run takes the pressure off tomorrow's training before attacking the race on Tuesday."

Meanwhile, the Austrian newcomer, Benjamin Raich, again stunned his rivals with a superb second run for his second World Cup win in three days in a giant slalom. Raich posted the fastest second-run time to improve from third with an aggregate time of 2mins 27.02secs and spoil the party for compatriot Hermann Maier in his home town.

Raich said after yesterday's win: "I wasn't worried about my result, I just wanted a good second run. My intention was never to beat Maier at home but to be as fast as possible. I don't care who finishes behind me."