Max Franz ended Austria’s 21-month wait for a men’s downhill victory after upsetting the odds to triumph at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Skiing World Cup in Italian resort Val Gardena today.
Franz clocked a time of 1min 56.60sec to claim his maiden World Cup victory and become the first man from his country to win a downhill since Hannes Reichelt came out on top in Norwegian resort Kvitfjell in March of last year.
Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal finished 0.04 seconds back in the runners-up spot, while the United States’ Steven Nyman was 0.41 off the pace in third.
Svindal, winner of the super-G and downhill in Val Gardena last season, was looking for his first victory since missing out on the second-half of last season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Nyman, meanwhile, was striving for a record fourth downhill win on the Saslong course, where he has celebrated all three of his World Cup wins in 2006, 2012 and 2014.
Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, winner of the opening three speed races of the season, including yesterday’s super-G, finished 12th.
Five places behind him was Austria’s Matthias Mayer, who this weekend is returning to the scene of a horrific crash a year ago which brought an end to his season.
Five-time defending champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who does not race downhill, remains top of the overall World Cup standings on 440 points.
Jansrud is second with 322 points, while France's Alexis Pinturault is third with 284.
The men now make the short journey to the Italian resort of Alta Badia, where a giant slalom is scheduled to take place tomorrow followed by a parallel slalom on Monday (December 19).
The women’s downhill race in French resort Val d'Isère saw Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec maintain her undefeated season in the discipline and secure a fourth victory of the campaign overall.
The 26-year-old posted a time of 1:46.14 to finish ahead of Austria’s Cornelia Huetter, 0.28 seconds back in the runners-up spot, and Italy’s Sofia Goggia, 0.32 seconds behind in third.
"I don’t really know what’s going on actually," said Stuhec, winner of yesterday's Alpine combined event to add to her two downhill victories in Lake Louise in Canada.
"It just feels amazing even though I’m still not satisfied with the run because I made some mistakes again.
"But, apparently, it was still fast enough, so it makes me happy."
Following her career-first podium in yesterday’s Alpine combined event, Switzerland's Michelle Gisin managed seventh place.
Stuhec is third in the overall World Cup standings on 445 points.
The US's Mikaela Shiffrin, who is skipping the speed events in Val d'Isère, is first with 498 points and followed by Goggia with 467.
The women are due to contest a super-G in Val d'Isère tomorrow.