Flier Mayer wins downhill gold

Sun Feb 9, 2014 5:49am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Matthias Mayer won Olympic downhill gold on Sunday to give the Austrian men's team the perfect start to the Alpine skiing competition with the first major success of his fledgling career.

On an overcast day when big favourites Bode Miller and Aksel Lund Svindal failed to shine, Italy's Christof Innerhofer - so nearly living up to his 'Winnerhofer' tag - took the silver and Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud snapped up the bronze.

"It's crazy. It's the greatest thing you can achieve as a sportsman - unbelievable," Mayer, who had set the quickest time in Friday training in the Caucasus mountains towering high above Sochi, told reporters.

After concern about high jumps and safety, with two racers ruled out after being injured in heavy falls on Saturday, the icy Rosa Khutor piste claimed no further victims on a day of thrills without spills.

With cowbells clanging in the grandstands, where fans made plenty of noise despite several hundred empty seats, Mayer added another Olympic medal to the family collection.

The 23-year-old, who started 11th, is the son of 1988 super-G silver medallist Helmut and had said earlier in the week that he had Olympic blood in the family and felt the Olympic spirit.

"I often came close to the podium on the World Cup tour this season so I felt able to do well here with a clean run," said the Austrian.

"My dad just told me to let it go and aim for a clean run."   Continued...

Austria's Matthias Mayer skis in the men's alpine skiing downhill race during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler