Alpine skiing: Impressive Miller tops Kitzbuehel downhill training

American Bode Miller continued his increasing return to form ahead of the Sochi Olympics by dominating Thursday's World Cup downhill training on the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuehel.

Five-time Olympic medallist Miller, 36, clocked 2min 02.93sec down the 3,494-metre-long course, which was clear at the top but had some fog-hit parts in the lower section.

Reigning world downhill champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway was the only racer to get within a second of Miller, at 0.96sec.

There was then a massive gap to third place, filled by home hope Hannes Reichelt, at 2.35sec.

Last season's winner, Dominik Paris of Italy, and another former winner here, Swiss veteran Didier Defago, were in joint eighth at 3.21sec.

Defago's teammate Patrick Kueng, winner at last weekend's shortened Wengen downhill, has only managed a best finish of 15th on the Streif, and was a huge 4.28sec off Miller's pace.

The American put his fast time down to taking lines outside the more evident rutted norms.

"With this course, if you run it enough times and the conditions are the way they are, there are places where you can bring your line in and you kind of lose speed," said the reigning Olympic super-combined champion.

"But you get that speed back so quickly and you eliminate all the extra distance and all the risk of bouncing around the turns."

Miller added: "On this track you can't do much if your skis aren't running.

"I've been focusing on this race all year. You know it's hard to win here and I've put a lot of energy into getting ready.

"It's challenging, there's no question... it's a different set of skills.

It's pretty even for everybody."

Organisers have had to re-jig the schedule in Kitzbuehel because of unseasonably warm temperatures and lack of snow.

The slalom will now be raced on Friday, when snow is forecast, with the super-G scheduled for Sunday, and the downhill, the World Cup's most prestigious speed event, staying on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of spectators pack into the glitzy Austrian Tyrolean resort for the race, turning the weekend into an almost unmatched fiesta glorifying fast alpine skiing, with the finish area situated bang in the centre of the town.

The Hahnenkamm, or rooster's comb, is certainly not a mountain for the faint-hearted, with racers touching 100km/h within 8.5 seconds of leaving the start.

Saturday's 74th running of the downhill, which made its debut in 1931, is over a piste more than 3.3 kilometres long, with racers reaching motorway-coasting speeds of 140km/h while being forced into negotiating 80-metre jumps.