LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — Michael Walchhofer won the first men’s downhill of the World Cup season, leading a strong Austrian showing on a day when Bode Miller finished eighth.
The 35-year-old Walchhofer is competing in his last World Cup season. He won in 1 minute, 47.78 seconds on Saturday, the first downhill victory by an Austrian man since March 2009.
Mario Scheiber of Austria and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway tied for second in 1:48.33. Austria’s Klaus Kroell was sixth in 1:48.89.
This was the 12th downhill victory of Walchhofer’s career and it came on the course where in 2003 he won his first downhill.
“It couldn’t be better,” he said. “I hope it’s not the last victory of my career. I felt good, but not perfect before the race. That I can be so fast today, it gives me a lot of self confidence for the next races.”
Scheiber was buoyed by his country’s performance — three Austrians in the top six.
“I had a good feeling in the first practices and I had a good feeling today,” he said. “Last year we had no victories and no Olympic medals. This year is a perfect start for our team.”
The race was held on a warm day and under blue skies on the Men’s Olympic Downhill Run. A week of cold weather and gusting winds had canceled one training run.
Jan Hudec of Canada finished 11th. He has had six knee operations and is troubled by a bad back.
“Words can’t describe it,” said Hudec, who was greeted by his 4-year-old son in the finish area. “It was an inspired run. Short of a miracle, I don’t know what else it was.”