Norwegian skier Svindal goes for back-to-back wins in Lake Louise World Cup

By Al Campbell

LAKE LOUISE, Nov. 29 (Xinhua)-- Aksel Lund Svindal showed strong form going into the year's first World Cup downhill event this weekend as the Norwegian skier posted the fastest time in the final day of training Friday in the Canadian Rockies.

The gold medal winner in the Super G at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver overcame low visibility on a shortened course in Lake Louise to cross the finish line in 1:24.33. Austrian Georg Streitberger was 0.14 seconds behind, while American star Bode Miller was third, 0.45 second back.

In a tight field, the 17 top skiers all finished within a second of the leader.

The 30-year-old Svindal has been a dominant force at the Alberta course located in Banff National Park in posting five victories over the years, four in the Super G and one in last year's downhill. If he can win Saturday's downhill he will join Austrian great Stephan Eberharter as the only man to post back-to-back victories at Lake Louise.

"It has been quite a bumpy ride down the course today," said Svindal, who finished second in the overall World Cup standings to Austrian Marcel Hirscher last season. "I got surprised by how big the 'Coaches' Corner' jump was today, there is a small kicker just before it and the flight was rather impressive."

Miller, the two-time overall World Cup champion who has been in a high-profile custody battle for his infant son with an ex-girlfriend, showed no rust in competing in his first World Cup event since injuring his knee in Sochi, Russia, in February 2012.

The 36-year-old, a winner of five Olympic medals, the most by an American, underwent surgery to correct the problem and then skipped all of last season to ensure he is healthy going into this February's Winter Games in Russia.

Canada's Erik Guay posted the fastest time on the first day of training Wednesday in near-perfect conditions, but slipped to 26th on Friday in the low visibility. The 2011 downhill world champion, who is also coming back from knee surgery, said strategy would be of the utmost importance to cope with the conditions.

"I skied the line that was fastest two days ago," said the Quebec native who finished in a time of 1:25.55 Friday. "If it clears up tonight and gets hard and they slip the track it could be hard and fast. If it's like this Saturday I for sure need to take more chances and ski deeper into the flat sections up top and down below."

The Super G race takes place on Sunday with the mountain hosting the women racers next weekend.