Cuche wins training despite broken rib
If there was ever any doubt that you need to be tough as nails to be a successful World Cup downhiller, veterans Didier Cuche and Bode Miller proved it Thursday. Despite skiing with a broken rib on his right side, suffered in training in Val d'Isere last week, Cuche clocked the fastest time of the day in the second training run on the Saslong downhill.
"I had less pain than yesterday," said Cuche. "The worst part is starting - that's really painful."
Cuche's time of 1:59.22 was 0.11 seconds faster than Italy's Werner Heel and 0.12 faster than Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal.
"I'm quite satisfied about the run. The skis went well up top and I caught a good line down," continued the reigning World Cup giant slalom champion. "I knew it was a good run, but I'm surprised to be first."
The Swiss veteran said that he wasn't skiing with any special protection under his speedsuit, however painkillers were very beneficial.
"The only thing we do is an injection into the spot - to have less pain during the run," he said. Today it was better than yesterday."
American Bode Miller also took his second training run on the Saslong course despite pain of his own. Miller sprained his right ankle during a volleyball game with teammates in Val d'Isere this past Saturday.
"It's swollen - the tough thing is getting it in and out of the boot," said Miller after his run. "It's tight - it hurts, but once it's in the boot there's no damage to the ligament. It's fine in there. It's just a little painful in a few positions, but besides that it's good."
Miller was tenth on the day despite standing up through the finish. Racers have admitted that the course is not as challenging as in years past, something that appears to be playing into Bode's favor.
"It's not super tough, pretty smooth," said Miller. "The top is good so that's a little bit less of a beating on it."
Austria's Michael Walchhofer who was fastest in Wednesday's first training, was fourth on Thursday, 0.31 seconds behind Cuche. The big downhiller has won twice here in addition to placing second four times.
"It's really tight with all the guys here at the front," said Cuche, handicapping the field. "With Walchhofer, it's kind of like it's his living room here. He just has to start and come down without making a big mistake and he will be top three for sure."
"Walchhofer has been consistently fast here," said Miller about the Austrian. "He's the strongest glider and has a pretty good track record here."
However, the two-time overall World Cup champion feels Saturday's downhill is anybody's game.
"It's a crapshoot here," said the American. "The gliders always do well here. It's mostly a race where if your skis are quick you are going to do well."
Miller also thinks that Sweden's Hans Olsson, who finished fifth Thursday is one to keep an eye on.
"Hans is skiing exceptionally fast and when he's fast on the flats he's almost untouchable," he said. "He hasn't put it all together in a World Cup race yet, but if he does he can win here."
Cuche, Miller and the boys take a break from downhill tomorrow to race a World Cup super-G. On Saturday, it's full speed ahead with the third downhill of the season.
By Brian Pinelli
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