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Olympics

Austria's Matthias Mayer claims men's downhill gold

Austrian skier Matthias Mayer has joined his father Helmut in the list of Winter Olympic medalists. Mayer was quickest on the wild downhill, just ahead of Italian Christof Innerhofer and Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud.

Matthias Mayer completed the downhill course in 2 minutes and 6.23 seconds on Sunday, with none of the subsequent skiers able to match his pace. Italy's Christof Innerhofer came closest after Mayer's run, falling just six-hundredths of a second shy of the gold-medal pace. Several other runners started the course quicker than Mayer only to fade later in their runs.

Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud, who had completed his run prior to Mayer, won bronze, also coming within a tenth of a second of Mayer's time.

IOC President Thomas Bach was present to watch the fight for what's widely considered to be skiing's most presitigious title.

Twenty-three-year-old Mayer's father, Helmut Mayer, won the Winter Olympic silver medal in the Super-G at the Calgary Games in 1988. Matthias Mayer had also fared best in the Super-G discipline up until Sochi, having never placed higher than fifth in a downhill competition before. But the Austrian was able to follow up on his strong practice pace on the Rosa Khutor downhill piste during the main event on Sunday.

Disappointment for favorites

Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal was fourth-fastest, while US star Bode Miller - another of the bookmaker's favorites - finished half a second off the pace.

The last downhill gold medalist to hail from ski-superpower Austria was Fritz Strobel at Salt Lake City in 2002.

Early in the second day of medal-winning competition in Sochi, Norway toppeds the overall standings with two golds, one silver and two bronze medals. Canada and the Netherlands were leading the chase with one of each color. Mayer's gold was Austria's first of the games, and temporarily put the country into fourth, ahead of the US. Innerhofer's silver in the downhil made Italy only the eighth country to claim a Sochi medal.

msh/jlw (dpa, SID)