Walchhofer leads downhill training; Miller 20th | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Walchhofer leads downhill training; Miller 20th

VAL GARDENA, Italy – Michael Walchhofer of Austria led the opening training session for a World Cup downhill race on Wednesday, and Bode Miller was 20th skiing on a sore ankle.

Walchhofer finished in 2 minutes, 0.55 seconds. The Austrian is aiming for his third straight downhill victory on the Saslong course.

Miller sprained his right ankle during a volleyball game over the weekend and sat out Sunday’s giant slalom in Val d’Isere, France.

He wrote in his blog Monday that he was having a hard time getting his swollen foot into his ski boot, saying he might not be ready in time for downhill training.

Miller declined to speak with reporters after his run, but U.S. coach Sasha Rearick said the team was still evaluating whether he would continue racing this week.

“He’s a tough kid and he’ll tough it out. It’s more a question of what’s the smart thing to do that we got to figure out,” Rearick said. He declined to speak with reporters after his run.

Defending overall World Cup champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was second, 0.28 seconds behind, and Hans Olsson of Sweden was third, 0.76 back.

Steven Nyman of the United States was fourth fastest as he continues to work his way back from surgery on both knees in August. He posted his only World Cup victory in Val Gardena three years ago.

Swiss veteran Didier Cuche placed sixth with a broken rib, saying he felt slightly awkward but will attempt to keep racing. Cuche won the opening downhill this season in Lake Louise, Alberta, and was runner-up to teammate Carlo Janka in Beaver Creek, Colo.

Overall World Cup leader Benjamin Raich of Austria and Janka, who is second in the standings, are both skipping the downhill in Val Gardena.

Another downhill training session is scheduled for Thursday, followed by the super-G race Friday and the downhill Saturday. The circuit then traverses the Gardena pass for a giant slalom and slalom in Alta Badia to complete a series of four races in four days.

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