Frenchman fastest in final training |

Frenchman fastest in final training

Shauna Farnell

SESTRIERE BORGATA, Italy – It’s difficult to know just how telling the results of Saturday’s downhill training run were.

French racer Antoine Deneriaz had the fastest time in Sestriere, Italy, on Saturday, finishing in 1 minute, 49.89 seconds, with Canadian Manuel Osborne-Paradis right on his heels (1:49.92), and Lichtenstein’s Marco Buechel in third (1:50.19).

Steve Nyman, who will be 24 today in time for the 2006 Olympic men’s downhill event, was the first American in the final day of training, with a fourth-place time of 1:50.22.

Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller, who on Saturday finished 10th and 12th respectively, were two of many racers to put the brakes on at the bottom of the race course.

The downhill race start order is determined by the reversed top 30 of Saturday’s training.

“If it was perfect, I’d like to be starting like five or something,” Rahlves said. “But I can never seem to get this whole thing down, any of this bluffing or shutting it down. I don’t know how some guys like Walchhofer do it consistently over and over again.”

World Cup downhill leader Michael Walchhofer finished 24th Saturday, strategically giving himself the sixth starting position today.

“It’s just one of those things with our sport that you kind of have to forget, and wherever you start it’s where you’ve got to start, so you deal with the conditions and make it happen from wherever you are,” he said. “You can’t be bummed about starting a little further back.”

Some racers, after all, prefer to start father back.

“I prefer a late start, so this is good for me,” Deneriaz said. “I was surprised to be so fast. I thought I would be slower.”

Deneriaz named the Austrians or Americans as favorites for gold in today’s race.

“I feel I have a very good chance of winning a medal,” he added.

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