Alpine skiing: Svindal glad to finally live up to favourite's tag

Failure to win the super-G and the loss to injury of his sole teammate were the added motivation Aksel Lund Svindal called on to claim gold in Saturday's world downhill race.

The strapping Norwegian arrived at the World Ski Championships as outright favourite in the speed events, and he admitted that his bronze-medal showing in the opening super-G had been hard to stomach.

That disappointment, allied with the loss through injury of teammate Kjetil Jansrud, conspired to fire him to a stunning victory down the Planai slope in the blue riband event.

Italy's World Cup downhill standings leader Dominik Paris took silver, with unheralded Frenchman David Poisson claiming a shock bronze.

"For the super-G I was the big favourite everyone was talking about, but in skiing you can't just turn up and get your medal. The margins between ultimate success and ultimate failure are too small," said Svindal.

"I definitely wanted to win the super-G and I didn't.

"There were also mixed emotions with my one and only (male) teammate injured and out for the season. It wasn't the start we wanted. I was really motivated to have a good day today.

"I had a pretty good feeling when I saw I was one second ahead," said Svindal, who now has eight world championship medals to his name, including five gold, drawing level with retired compatriot Kjetil-Andre Aamodt.

The 30-year-old admitted that the Planai course had provided a much bigger test than first expected, different as it is from the steeper, faster classic downhills of Bormio, Kitzbuehel, Val d'Isere and Wengen.

"There's no World Cup or world championships that is easy because the best in the world are at the start," said the affable Svindal.

"The course here is actually tougher than we thought. It's faster, bumpier, icier and, with the weather we've had, there's been bad visibility.

"You try to make it as smooth as you can. But you have to fight for every hundredth of a second.

"I had a very good run. I was happy not to have to go back up and do it again because I had nothing left."

Silver medallist Paris confirmed the impressive season form that saw him victorious in World Cup runs in Bormio and Kitzbuehel.

"I'm very happy with this race. I gave it my best today and I couldn't believe I got a medal but now it's reality," the Italian said.

"It was a very difficult course, and also the visibility at the top was bad. It was very icy and if you made a mistake you lost speed and went out of the line.

"I thought I'd have to get a good line in the middle section, and in the bottom, you just needed strength to accelerate, which Aksel did."

Paris and bronze medallist Poisson both agreed that Svindal had simply been unbeatable on the day.

"Aksel had an excellent run," Paris said. "He fought like a lion right from the start to the end.

"If you'd had a galactical run you might have beaten him, but if you're from this planet, he was unbeatable."

The 30-year-old Poisson, who has never yet made a World Cup podium and has just seven top-10 finishes in nine seasons, said his persistence had paid off.

"When you're on the podium, it's perfect," Poisson said. "You don't have to think about who you beat or who's in front of you."