December 14, 2007 / 12:15 AM / 10 years ago

Guay leads way in Val Gardena training

VAL GARDENA, Italy (Reuters) - Canada’s Erik Guay was fastest in Thursday’s final downhill training run for this weekend’s Saslong Classic World Cup race.

<p>Canada's Erik Guay skis past a gate during a training run for the men's World Cup downhill in Beaver Creek, Colorado, November 27, 2007. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>

Guay, who won his maiden race in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in February, clocked 1 minute 56.57 seconds to edge Switzerland’s Didier Cuche (1:57.29) into second place.

“I had a solid run but it’s possible to ski faster on this slope. It has been really well prepared and we all hope it will finally be a fair race this time,” the 26-year-old Guay told reporters hoping for consistent conditions for all skiers.

Recent downhill races in North America have been hit by bad weather which caused problems for the racers.

Austria’s 2005 and 2006 World Cup downhill champion Michael Walchhofer, quickest in Wednesday’s training, was joint-third fastest on the second run with American rival Bode Miller.

The pair sped down the slope in 1:57.44 with Walchhofer looking to add to last month’s downhill win in Beaver Creek, Colorado and Miller, no longer part of the U.S. team, keen to improve on his seventh place in the overall standings.

“There are lots of rolls in the lower part and the jumps are pretty tough too,” said Walchhofer, second in the downhill here four times.

“I like this slope a lot and I‘m aiming for another podium finish here. Of course, a win would make me very happy, because this is one of the last ‘classics’ that I haven’t won so far in my career. I feel confident after my success in Colorado.”

The World Cup Super-G race takes place in the northern Italian resort on Friday before the downhill on Saturday.

Writing by Mark Meadows in Milan; Editing by Ken Ferris

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