VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) — Long after most broadcasters had switched to other programs, unheralded No. 41 starter Martin Cater won the first downhill of the World Cup season on Sunday.
The television networks had a point. The 27-year-old Slovenian’s career-best result was eighth in his 38 previous World Cup downhills and he seemed unlikely to disturb an already unexpected 1-2 finish.
Instead, Cater raced down in bright sunshine under clear blue skies to seal an even more shocking podium result.
Cater was 0.22 seconds faster than Otmar Striedinger to deny the Austrian who wore bib No. 26 his first career win. Striedinger had a best of third place in his 64 previous World Cup downhills.
Urs Kryenbühl was third, 0.27 back, after the little-known Swiss seemed set for his debut win after being fastest of the top 20-ranked racers. He had a single top-10 result in his 41 career World Cup races.
Both Striedinger and Kryenbühl must have earlier thought victory was theirs, and both had taken part in a brief victory ceremony that World Cup organizers always stage after the top-30 downhill racers complete their run.
Those now outdated photographs included the defending World Cup overall champion, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who was pushed down to fourth by Cater’s surprise success.
Beat Feuz and Dominik Paris, the most prolific downhill racers in recent years, placed sixth and 10th, respectively.
Defending World Cup downhill champion Feuz clocked the fastest speed-check at 116 kph (72mph) after losing time going wide at a turn in the mid-section.
The result was still unofficial as even lower-ranked skiers in the 61-man field were yet to start.
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