Skiing

Svindal wins World Cup downhill title as fog cancels last race

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Associated Press
3/13/2013 11:32:20 AM
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LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland -- Aksel Lund Svindal won his first season-long World Cup downhill title on Wednesday without even racing, then all but conceded the bigger prize of the overall title.

Fog forced the cancellation of the final race of the season, allowing the tall Norwegian to maintain his 58-point lead over 2012 downhill champion Klaus Kroell of Austria.

However, the cancelled men's race prevented Svindal from scoring up to 100 points to close the gap on overall standings leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who skips downhill races.

"There was some kind of chance but that chance has gone now," Svindal told broadcaster Eurosport. "For me, it's a good season no matter what."

Svindal, who won overall titles in 2007 and '09, trails by 149 with Hirscher's specialist technical events scheduled at the weekend with sunshine forecast.

"Marcel Hirscher fully deserves his second big cup, he has achieved an amazing season," Svindal said later in a statement. "I am also very pleased with my own winter."

Svindal has emerged as the standout speed racer, adding the World Cup downhill title to his gold medal in the Alpine glamor event at last month's world championships in Schladming, Austria.

He has already won the season title in super-G.

The International Ski Federation finally called off the race four hours after its scheduled 9:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) start time and numerous delays.

Fog shrouded lower parts of the Lenzerheide slope and fans in the grandstands couldn't see the finish line.

One hour later, organizers cancelled the women's downhill race which gave the title to Lindsey Vonn, who is out injured, for a sixth straight year.

"The jury took the right decision. The racing conditions were really bad with that fog," Svindal said.

The forecast is not much better for Thursday, when Hirscher is expected to make a rare super-G start.

Hirscher and Svindal both race giant slalom, which is scheduled for Saturday, and finals week ends with a slalom on Sunday. Hirscher already locked up the slalom points race.

The cancellation also denied the successful Italian speed team a chance to crown its outstanding season.

Dominik Paris and Christof Innerhofer, who combined for five wins compared to Svindal's one, both could have taken the title on Wednesday if results had fallen their way.

Svindal broke a 13-year streak of downhill titles shared by the powerful Austrian team and Swiss favourite Didier Cuche.

The title last went outside the Alpine neighbours' hands in 1999 when another Norwegian, Lasse Kjus, won.

With Cuche retired and expected successor Beat Feuz injured all season, no Swiss racer qualified for the scheduled race.

World Cup finals races are limited to the top 25 in the discipline standings, the junior world champion and any racer with 500 race points overall.

Aksel Lund Svindal (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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