BORMIO, Italy — Canadian skier James Crawford raced to a second-place finish on one of the world’s most demanding courses to reach the podium in the final World Cup downhill of 2022.
Crawford, from Toronto, finished Wednesday's race 0.40 seconds behind Austrian world champion Vincent Kriechmayr, who mastered the icy and bumpy 2,268-kilometre Stelvio course in one minute 54.68 seconds.
Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde finished 0.28 back of Crawford in third.
The medal is Crawford's second of the World Cup season. He finished third in a downhill Dec. 12 at Beaver Creek, Colo.
It was Kriechmayr's 14th World Cup victory and seventh in downhill.
Kilde was the World Cup downhill champion last season and won three of the four previous downhills this campaign, with Kriechmayr the only other winner – in another Italian resort, Val Garena, two weeks ago.
On Wednesday, Kriechmayr managed to avoid trouble on the challenging course, which will be used for the men’s downhill at the 2026 Olympics.
Despite the many bumps and rolls, he maintained full control and never came off his race line, while most of his rivals struggled on parts of their runs.
“Winning here means a lot. It's one of the classic events and every ski racer dreams of winning them once,” said Kriechmayr, who had three previous podium results on the Stelvio without a win.
“Today was definitely my best run here. I was not the fastest in the last section but it was a reasonable run.”
After winning three downhills this season and clocking the fastest time by far in Tuesday’s final training, Kilde was widely regarded as the favorite.
However, he had no previous top-three results on the Stelvio. He was behind Kriechmayr’s time throughout his run and only just avoided a crash when he quickly regained his balance near the end.
“Vince was just too good today,” Kilde said. “It was a good run but not good enough.”
Overall World Cup leader Marco Odermatt finished 1.46 behind in fourth and didn’t lose much ground on Kilde in the standings. The Swiss skier is still 261 points ahead of his rival.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle was the top American finisher in fifth, 1.87 behind Kriechmayr, while record six-time winner Dominik Paris of Italy placed 10th.
Two Olympic downhill champions, Swizerland’s Beat Feuz (2022) and Austria’s Matthias Mayer (2014), sat out the race due to illness. Last week Feuz announced he will retire next month.
The event started following a 10-minute delay after one of the forerunners, who test the course prior to a race, crashed and safety netting had to be reinstalled.
A super-G on Thursday is the last men’s World Cup race of 2022.
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The Associated Press