U.S. skier Nyman savors 'best gift' after long-awaited win

Story highlights

  • History repeats as Steve Nyman wins second World Cup race of his career
  • The U.S. skier's only other victory came at the same Italian downhill event in 2006
  • The 30-year-old beat second-placed Slovenian Rok Perko, with Canada's Erik Guay third
  • Aksel Lund Svindal was fifth in difficult conditions to extend his overall lead to 177 points

It's been a long time between wins for Steve Nyman, but the American skier is determined to prove he is over his injury problems.

On Saturday Nyman celebrated his first World Cup victory since 2006, having recently returned to top-level action after missing all of last season.

The 30-year-old had placed 29th in Friday's Super G race at Val Gardena-Groden, but stormed home in Saturday's downhill after starting 39th in the Italian event.

His triumph came in the same Saslong Classic race where he earned his only other career win six years ago, as he earned a podium place for the first time since 2007.

The two-time Olympian took advantage of improving conditions to head off Slovenia's surprise second-placer Rok Perko by 0.19 seconds, with Canadian Erik Guay finishing third from Norway's Kjetil Jansrud.

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"Weather was a huge factor but hats off to Erik and Jansrud who ran in the snow and the fog," Nyman said. "When I heard Rok coming into the lead I said, 'Right on, it's on, it's open!'

    "I've always believed I had the speed. I hope to prove it through the year. But I guess no points to 100 points isn't that consistent.

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    "I'm just happy to feel good again. My body's feeling good. I had the flu, but battled that off. I had rib issues the first few races because I put it into the fence while training in Copper. The Achilles last year, the knees years before that and the back -- this is the best gift I could have."

    Friday's race winner Aksel Lund Svindal was fifth, extending his overall lead to 177 points from absent American Ted Ligety, who will return to action for Sunday's giant slalom across the mountain at Alta Badia.

    "Having trouble because of too much snow is in many ways a good thing," the Norwegian wrote on his blog on Saturday.

    "Snow is good for ski business. And we're all a part of the business. But as a racer and an athlete days like todays like today are tough.

    "We want to compete under equal and fair conditions. But sometimes that's not possible in the mountains. We didnt have good conditions but it could have been worse. The poor guys that started first had no chance. Racing is less fun on days like today."

    Meanwhile, Saturday's women's World Cup Super G race at Val d'Isere was called off due to heavy snow at the French resort.

    Val d'Isere is the traditional host of the start of the main European swing of the World Cup season, having staged men's races last weekend as part of the traditional Criterium de la Premiere Neige ("races of the first snow").

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