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Alpine skiing: Another win for Gut in Beaver Creek downhill

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Switzerland's Lara Gut won the first downhill of the women's alpine World Cup season on Friday on the new Raptor course built for the 2015 World Championships.

Gut continued a strong start to a season that will be highlighted by the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, notching her second victory in three races after her giant slalom triumph in Soelden, Austria, last month.

The 22-year-old, who is aiming for Olympic glory in February after she missed the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games recovering from a hip injury, clocked 1min 41.26sec to beat Liechtenstein's Tina Weirather by 0.47sec.

Italy's Elena Fanchini was third, 0.98sec behind the winner.

Gut, who had already shown her mastery of the unfamiliar course with two top times in three training runs, took her career tally of World Cup wins to five.

She was looking forward to a chance to add to that total with a super G scheduled for Saturday and a giant slalom on Sunday.

"There's still two races to go (this week) and I'll try to go faster," a beaming Gut said. "Of course it's cool to start a season like that. I'm skiing fine ... it's good."

Gut said her form so far this season reflects hard work, and the return of the ease she felt when she first arrived on the World Cup scene as a teenager.

That was before a training fall in September of 2009 in which she dislocated a hip, an injury that saw her miss the 2010 Olympics.

"Since then I think I've started being again myself and in my life I'm doing what I want to do," she said. "The last two years I was really working hard on my skiing skills and it's working."

It was another disappointing day for Slovenia's Tina Maze, the reigning giant slalom and overall World Cup title holder.

Maze, who finished a stunning 18th in the giant slalom in Soelden, again failed to crack the top 15. She finished tied for 16th, more than two seconds adrift.

Reigning Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn was a notable absentee.

Vonn had planned to make her return to competition here for the first time since reconstructive surgery on her right knee in the wake of a crash at the World Championships last February.

But Vonn partially tore one of the repaired ligaments in the knee in a fall on a training run on November 19 at nearby Copper Mountain.

The US star has said she might be able to race next week at Lake Louise, Canada, and fully expects to be ready to defend her downhill crown in Sochi.

bpe/bb/bc

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131129/alpine-skiing-another-win-gut-beaver-creek-downhill