Kroell trumps Svindal in final training run

Austrian Klaus Kroell fired out a warning to Norwegian rival Aksel Lund Svindal by topping Thursday's third and final training run for the men's World Cup downhill on the weekend.

Austria's Klaus Kroell competes during the men's World Cup Downhill training, on January 24, 2013 in Kitzbuehel. Kroell fired out a warning to Norwegian rival Aksel Lund Svindal by topping Thursday's third and final training run for the men's World Cup downhill on the weekend.

Svindal looked to have clocked the fastest time of 1min 58.00sec, to follow up his lead times in the first and second training runs earlier this week down the demanding Streif course on the Hahnenkamm mountain.

The Norwegian, who currently tops the World Cup downhill standings, made up a remarkable 0.3sec between the fifth and penultimate sixth intermediary in the final stages of the 3.3km-long piste.

But the 32-year-old Kroell, who has twice finished third in the downhill here and triumphed in the 2009 super-G, kept his form in perfect, sunny conditions to time 1:57.74, 0.26 ahead of Svindal.

Svindal said: "I've been fast on every course (this year) but this is not the race either - you still have to pull it together to win the race."

The Norwegian said the winner of Saturday's downhill would be the skier who exercised the correct form of risk management.

"You need to ski well top to bottom with a little bit of risk without making big mistakes," the 30-year-old said.

"Mistakes-wise, it's the top that's the worst part because the top is so bumpy and it's dark so you can't really see the bumps.

"I saw (Christof) Innerhofer lose his ski there. It's hard to hold and ski the way you want to up there because the skis aren't really that much in the snow, they seem to be in the air as much as they are on the snow."

Svindal's teammate Kjetil Jansrud finished third fastest at 0.28sec, with Italian Werner Heel in fourth at 0.38sec.

It was, however, a mixed bag of a morning for Heel's team.

Innerhofer was a casualty on the notoriously tough Streif, a bump up high on the piste sending him off kilter and sliding to a halt having lost a ski, but with no apparent injury.

The unfortunate Innerhofer was later hit with a fine of 999 Swiss francs (820 euros) and handed the low starting bib number of 46 for re-attaching his ski and proceeding to the bottom after his crash, against federation rules.

Teammate Dominik Paris also left the large crowd gasping by barely managing to control his jump over the final jump, when racers reach 140kph.

A fourth Italian, Peter Fill, opted out of the third training run, along with fancied Austrian Hannes Reichelt, who finished second in the first two training runs.

"It looks like Norwegians, Austrians and Italians might be the strongest and we'll see how that plays out in the race," Svindal said.

Saturday's downhill follows Friday's super-G, with a slalom scheduled for Sunday.

But the races will not feature the "King of the Streif" -- record five-time winner Didier Cuche of Switzerland -- out of the running following his retirement from competition last season.

Swiss skier Didier Defago, the only past winner of Kitzbuehel's prestigious downhill (in 2009) to be in the running this year, came in 11th at 1.15sec.

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Writer: AFP
Position: News agency