Alpine Ski-Norway's Kilde wins Kitzbuehel downhill ahead of French pair

Alpine Skiing - FIS Alpine Ski World Cup - Men's Downhill - Kitzbuehel, Austria - January 21, 2022 Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde celebrates after his first run REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

(Reuters) -Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde powered to victory in the classic Kitzbuehel World Cup downhill on Friday, beating French veteran Johan Clarey by 0.42 seconds.

A great day for the French team was completed when Blaise Giezendanner, running 43rd, produced a spectacular run to push Austria's Matthias Mayer out of third place.

Overall World Cup leader Marco Odermatt of Switzerland finished in fifth place at what is the marquee event of the ski season.

Kilde's win, in 1:55.92 on a shortened course, was the 20-year-old's sixth of the World Cup season and he will have a chance of another in Sunday's scheduled second race - the final downhill before the Beijing Winter Games next month.

"I had such a good run, incredible feeling, standing here now just over a year after the operation on my knee, quite incredible. Today was one of the days when I had a really good feeling," said Kilde.

The Norwegian takes over on top of the downhill World Cup standings, moving ahead of Italian Dominik Paris.

Following his triumph in the other classic downhill, at Wengen last week, Kilde looking the man to beat in Beijing, became the fourth Norwegian to win at Kitzbuehel.

"It is one of the biggest races I can win. It's Kitzbuehel, raw conditions and difficult weather. I put this high on the list of what I have done before," he said.

Second-place was an outstanding result for 41-year-old Clarey, his ninth career World Cup podium coming 12 years after his first.

The Frenchman has never won a World Cup race but this was his fourth podium finish at Kitzbuehel.

Austria were left without a podium finisher at their biggest event although late runner Christian Walder was in contention for a top three finish but fell near the end of his race.

Marcel Hirscher, gold medallist in giant slalom and combined in the 2018 Olympics and now retired, fulfilled his dream of taking on the Hahnenkamm, skiing as the forerunner to Friday's race.

The race took place before a much smaller than normal crowd due to COVID-19 restrictions in Austria.

(Reporting by Simon EvansEditing by Mark Heinrich and Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge)

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