BEAVER CREEK, Colorado — Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway weathered falling snow, freezing temperatures and low visibility to win a World Cup downhill race on Friday.
Svindal finished in a time of 1 minute, 44.50 seconds, beating Hannes Reichelt of Austria by 0.17 seconds. Peter Fill of Italy was third.
American Bode Miller was 13th as he works his way back from a knee injury that sidelined him all of last season.
This wasn't the downhill course the racers have grown accustomed to at Beaver Creek. It was a hybrid path that featured part of the women's downhill before switching over to the more traditional men's setting.
No matter the terrain in Beaver Creek, Svindal finds a way to shine. He's now won four races at this venue, though it is also the site of one of his most horrific crashes.
In 2007, Svindal lost control over a jump and landed on his backside, sliding into a fence. During the fall, one of his razor-sharp skis went over him, leaving a 6-inch laceration of his left buttock. The cut so concerned doctors they went into his stomach to make sure everything internally was still intact.
A distant memory, he said.
He holds no animosity toward a venue that's otherwise treated him so well. Of his 52 career podium finishes, 11 have taken place at Beaver Creek.
"The crazy thing is I don't really have bad memories, even from the year I crashed and spent two weeks in the hospital," Svindal said. "It's a good place to be in the hospital. There are super good doctors."
Reichelt thought he turned in a good run in deteriorating conditions, maybe a winning run. Six skiers later, Svindal powered out of the starting gate, gaining ground on Reichelt at every interval. When Svindal finished and saw his time, he pumped his poles in the air in exultation.
"I like the old course better, I have to be honest," Svindal said. "This is a good course. But the old course is one of the best courses in the world.
"I just decided to get after it. No one is going to ski this perfect in these conditions. So if you can't ski it perfect, you have to ski it aggressively."
That was Miller's approach, too. He showed flashes of his old form, the one that won him many races before sitting out last season with a surgically repaired knee. With Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" blaring over the loudspeaker, Miller charged full speed ahead, his arms flailing in places and one of his skis lifting into the air at one point.
"Even though the course is pretty basic and not that challenging in a way, I was fun today," Miller said. "I knew I had a bunch of intensity, so I tried to ski dynamic."
For Reichelt, this was a step toward making a strong Austrian team for the Sochi Games.
Though he didn't get close to Svindal.
"He's the king," Reichelt said of the Norwegian.