BEAVER CREEK, Colo. – Daron Rahlves edged Bode Miller in a World Cup downhill Friday for a 1-2 U.S. finish, reversing their order from last year on the same mountain.

This time, Rahlves covered the Birds of Prey course – shortened because of wind and fog – in 1 minute, 13.37 seconds. Two skiers later, Miller came down in 1:13.64, going through the top faster than his teammate before losing ground in the latter stages.

“On the bottom part, it was tight. Bode was scaring me at the bottom. He was skiing really well, too,” Rahlves said. “That’s good to see – the two of us on the same team, challenging each other for the win.”

In 2004, when Miller beat Rahlves by 0.16 seconds, it was the first time U.S. men took the top two spots in a World Cup downhill. That was also the first time since 1984 that Americans went 1-2 in a top race since Phil Mahre won the slalom at the Sarajevo Olympics ahead of twin brother Steve.

“I can’t feel too badly about this,” Miller said. “Last year, Daron felt he’d put down a winning run, but I beat him.”

Hans Grugger of Austria was third in 1:13.71, just ahead of teammate Fritz Strobl, who won the season-opening downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, last weekend.

Miller was 22nd in that race, and 18th in a super-G the next day, then failed to finish Thursday’s super-G at Beaver Creek, blaming goggles that iced up and made it tough to see.

He began last season by winning four of the first five races and six of 10 en route to becoming the first American since 1983 to win the overall World Cup title. But he said Friday he wasn’t concerned by this season’s much slower start.

The 32-year-old Rahlves has said this likely will be his final season of competition and his goals include filling an already impressive resume with two things he lacks: an Olympic medal and a World Cup discipline title. He’s come quite close to the latter, finishing second in the downhill standings in 2002-03 and 2003-04, second in the super-G in 2003-04, and third in the super-G last season.

He was 32nd in the Lake Louise downhill, but was brilliant Friday, at one point righting himself after tilting sideways.

As if winning a World Cup race weren’t enough motivation, particularly at the only U.S. hill on the men’s circuit, Rahlves said he also got a little extra pumped up when he heard Miller talking near the start about how he planned to “rip this hill apart.”

“I’m not putting in all this effort to finish second over and over again to the same guy,” said Rahlves, who was fifth in Thursday’s super-G.

“Last year was tough – always just kind of like a step behind Bode, every time.”

Italy’s Fanchini wins downhill, U.S. goes 4-5-8

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – Elena Fanchini of Italy won her first World Cup title Friday, capturing the inaugural women’s downhill of the season in 1 minute, 49.33 seconds at frigid Lake Louise.

Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria was second at 1:49.43. Another veteran Austrian, Alexandra Meissnitzer, was third at 1:49.60 on the bitter cold afternoon with soft snowfall and the temperature at 1 degree.

U.S. skiers finished fourth, fifth and eighth, led by Julia Mancuso at 1:50.00. Defending champion Lindsey Kildow was fifth at 1:50.05. The big breakthrough came from Stacey Cook of the United States. Cook was eighth at 1:50.49. Her previous World Cup best was 31st, at Lake Louise a year ago.

Dorfmeister, who has 21 World Cup victories and will retire after this season, has had great success at Lake Louise. This was her fourth second-place finish here, and she is the defending Lake Louise super-G champion.

A second downhill is scheduled today, with a super-G race Sunday.

Fanchini, 20, burst onto the World Cup scene with a second-place finish in last year’s world championships. Her only previous World Cup finishes were fifth in the downhill at Santa Caterina, Italy, and fifth in the super-G in San Sicario, Italy, both last season.

Lucia Recchia of Italy was taken by helicopter off the mountain after a crash midway down the course. Recchia has a history of concussions, but only had a bloody nose and no major injuries, race officials said.

Kildow, whose lone World Cup victory came in the same race a year ago, was the leader through much of the competition, but she knew it wouldn’t stay that way.

“I made too many mistakes,” she said, “but anything in the top five is good. There’s another downhill tomorrow.”

Kildow, who earned her 13th top five finish, lost more than a half-second when she went sideways on a tricky, sharp turn three-quarters through the race.

Mancuso, still seeking her first World Cup triumph after two third-place finishes in last year’s world championships, also had trouble on top of the course, but sped into the lead briefly with a strong second half.

“It’s nice to know you can have a not-so-perfect run and still do well,” she said.

Cook, a member of the U.S. Alpine B team, could hardly believe her finish.

“I had a good training run yesterday so I knew that I was capable of doing well, but I wouldn’t have guessed I would be here today,” the 21-year-old from Truckee, Calif., said. “It’s a huge confidence boost.”

Cook, with Mancuso’s help, drew a cat nose and whiskers on the tape the skiers put across their face to protect against frostbite in ski speeds that reached 70 mph.

“I learned a lot today about what I have to do to ski and be with these girls,” she said. “I actually executed my plan, which I’ve never been able to do before.”

AP-ES-12-02-05 1717EST


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