Austrian Kroell first in training run No. 2 |

Austrian Kroell first in training run No. 2

Shauna Farnell

SESTRIERE BORGATA, Italy – Austrian Klaus Kroell did more than just prove to his coaches that he was worthy of a last-minute spot on the downhill team on Friday.

Kroell, who was under scrutiny from his coaches during downhill training run No. 2 in Sestriere Borgata, Italy, had to prove he was better than his teammate, Andreas Buder, to secure the final spot on Austria’s Olympic ski team. Making his case, Kroell put down the fastest time of the day, finishing in 1 minute, 49.75 seconds (Buder finished ninth in 1:50.83.

“I’m very satisfied. There’s a very good feeling on the team now,” Kroell said. “In the last Olympics, it was very close between me and Christian Greber to make the team and I was not so lucky then. My dream was to be on the Olympic team, so now I hope for a medal.”

Fellow Austrian Fritz Strobl, Olympic gold medalist in the 2002 downhill, finished second Friday in 1:50.11. Switzerland’s Bruno Kernen was a hair behind in third with a time of 1:50.13.

While Daron Rahlves took the day off after blowing up the field with a 1.2-second lead in Thursday’s training run, Bode Miller was the first American down the hill , taking seventh in 1:50.72. Miller said despite the scarce snow in the Italian Alps, the downhill course is in good shape.

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“It’s a help when there’s not so much snow like there is right now,” he said. “It makes it thinner, they have to put water in it, it’s more consistent. I would say the surface is as good as any race we’ve had all year.”

Steve Nyman earned himself the first of two spots remaining on the U.S. Olympic Team Friday, beating teammates Marco Sullivan and Scott Macartney with an 11th-place finish. Nyman finished with a time of 1:50.88, just .24 seconds faster than Sullivan, who finished 12th, and .27 seconds ahead of Macartney, who finished 13th.

“I wanted the downhill most because it’s on my birthday,” said Nyman, who turns 24 on Sunday. “I was nervous today, but I’m nervous every day.”

The final spot on the U.S. team will be determined Saturday, pitting Macartney and Sullivan against each other in the last training run before race day Sunday.

“We’re giving it our all,” Sullivan said. “I think it’s the fairest way of doing it. You can see we’re all very close in the World Cup standings. Today it felt a lot more serious than a normal downhill training run.”

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