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Cuche wins downhill to claim title

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KVITFJELL, Norway -- Didier Cuche clinched the 2007 downhill World Cup title with victory in the penultimate race of the Alpine ski season on Saturday.

The Swiss, who had often come close but had never won a major title in more than a decade of competition, took his first victory of the season in a race interrupted for 90 minutes by poor visibility.

"I nearly started celebrating when they were about to cancel the race," said Cuche, who turns 33 this year.

"It was not easy to re-focus when they decided to continue the competition but I was able to and I'm really happy with the way I skied and the way I kept my nerve.

"It's a great feeling after all the fights I've had over the last two years. It's amazing, I can't explain what I'm feeling right now," said the Swiss, who struggled with a serious knee ligament injury after a crash while training in Adelboden in 2005.

"I'm glad to be back to show that I can still ski really fast."

Saturday's win, after a string of podium places, left him 168 points ahead of Liechtenstein's Marco Buechel in the downhill cup standings with one race, worth 100 points, to come in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, next week.

Canadian Erik Guay was second on Saturday, just 0.06 seconds behind Cuche's time of one minute 28.51 seconds, with Buechel third, a further 0.23 back.

"I never expected it (winning the title) before the season began but I knew after Beaver Creek that I can really be fast the whole season," said Cuche, who was second in the Colorado resort in December.

He won the giant slalom bronze at the world championships in Are, Sweden, last month, only the second major championship medal of his career after the super-G silver at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

Saturday's win was Cuche's sixth career victory on the World Cup but his first in more than three years, since he won the Garmisch downhill in 2004.

The win improved his outside chance of challenging Austrian Benjamin Raich and Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal for the overall title.

Five World Cup races remain, with Kvitfjell staging the super-G on Sunday, the last men's race before the finals in Lenzerheide from Wednesday.

Raich, who was 21st on Saturday, leads the overall standings with 1,055 points followed by Svindal on 952 and Cuche on 903.


Swiss racer Cuche has finally won a major title after over 10 years of trying.

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