BORMIO, Italy — Even in a sport where races are often decided by hundredths of seconds, the results of Saturday's classic Bormio downhill were so tight that even the most experienced skiers were left stunned.
Hannes Reichelt of Austria and Dominik Paris of Italy shared victory with the same time on the Stelvio course — usually considered the circuit's most physically demanding — and the top four finishers were separated by a mere two-hundredths of a second in one of the closest finishes ever.
On a hill as tough as this to have a race that close, that's surprising, said overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal, who finished third. The crazy thing is we were fast in different sections.
Paris took the early lead by clocking 1 minute, 58.62 seconds for his first career win and Reichelt matched him to give Austria its first speed win of the season.
Svindal finished 0.01 seconds behind — the smallest possible margin — and Klaus Kroell of Austria was fourth, missing out on a podium finish despite being just 0.02 behind the winners.
It's for sure the tightest race I've ever been in, added Svindal, who sat out training Friday with a sore throat. Obviously 0.01 is extremely tight and you wonder what you could have done to be faster than the winner, but that's always the case. The race is over. I had a good run and I'll take third place today.
It was the ninth time two men tied for victory on the World Cup circuit, but the first time four racers finished within 0.02 of each other — among men or women.
In the super-G at the 1999 world championships in Vail, Colo., Lasse Kjus and Hermann Maier shared victory, with Hans Knauss 0.01 behind in third. However, the fourth-place finisher in that race, Stephan Eberharter, was 0.22 back.
There was also a downhill in Panorama, British Columbia, in 1992 won by William Besse, with Daniel Mahrer and Guenther Mader sharing second — each 0.01 behind. AJ Kitt was fourth in that race, 0.19 behind.
Among the women, there was a three-way victory in a giant slalom in 2002 in Soelden, Austria, between Nicole Hosp, Tina Maze and Andrine Flemmen. But again fourth place was further behind.
Travis Ganong was the top American finisher in seventh, a best-career result.
When I train I push it to a certain amount and it's smooth and fast and consistent, and I reached that level today, Ganong said.
It looked like the race might be remembered as an Italian sweep, with Paris, Werner Hell and Christof Innerhofer sitting 1-2-3 through 13 starters. With Italian great Alberto Tomba on hand, the local fans were going wild.
Reichelt was then faster than Paris at each checkpoint, but he lost time on the bottom section and crossed dead even — prompting the fans to cheer again.
Svindal made a slight error near the end of his run — nearly going down on one hip — but battled to regain his balance.
It definitely wasn't my best turn on the hill, but I didn't crash and I saved a third place, Svindal said.
Svindal turned 30 this week, then came down with a sore throat.
I tried warm up yesterday but it wasn't a good day for me, he said. I decided if I wanted to have any chance, I needed to rest. I went to bed and read some books and rested up for today.
Svindal matched Michael Walchhofer's record from 2004 of six podiums in speed events before New Year's.
I'm on a very good roll, Svindal said. Every day other guys are fast, too, but I'm always right there.
With 674 points, Svindal also extended his overall lead ahead of Marcel Hirscher of Austria (560) and Ted Ligety (537) of the United States — both technical specialists who did not race. He also still leads the downhill standings.
Kroell was the last of the favorites to ski and was 0.20 faster than the leaders at the final checkpoint. But when he crossed the line and saw the results board, he buried his face in his hands.
SEMMERING, Austria — Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia upset the favorites to win a World Cup night slalom Saturday for her first career victory.
She trailed overall World Cup leader Tina Maze by 0.55 seconds after the opening leg but overtook the Slovenian with a near-flawless final run. Velez Zuzulova finished in a combined time of 1 minute, 37.28 seconds. Kathrin Zettel of Austria was 0.10 back. Maze was third, 0.20 behind.
The rest of the field finished more than a second behind Velez Zuzulova, who celebrated her victory by lying face-down in the snow in the finish area for about 30 seconds.
A while ago I was almost thinking that it's impossible to win one day, said the 28-year-old Velez Zuzulova, who has been racing on the World Cup circuit since 2000.
The Slovakian, who married her French coach Romain Velez in the offseason, said attacking was her only tactic for the final run.