Double Olympic and world champion Hermann Maier led an Austrian sweep in the men's downhill yesterday, ending a monthlong winless streak with a victory in the first World Cup race of the year.

Maier stormed down the grueling course in Chamonix, France, in 2 minutes 51 hundredths of a second, collecting his first win since the circuit returned to Europe in early December.

"It was important for me, especially since I hadn't won in a while," said Maier, who collected his 24th career win. "It's always good to win the first race of the new year."

Maier won five of the first six races he entered this season but didn't win again for a month until yesterday. Teammate Stephan Eberharter was runner-up in 2:00.56, and Hannes Trinkl finished third in 2:00.68.

WOMEN'S ALPINE: Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister won her fourth World Cup giant slalom in her last five races, edging Italy's Karen Putzer in Berchtesgaden, Germany.

FREESTYLE: Janne Lahtela of Finland skied a precise run, then took advantage of a crash by teammate Mikko Rokainen to win a men's World Cup moguls event in Park City, Utah. Sandra Schmitt of Germany won her first World Cup event, taking the women's title.

Evan Dybvig of Tunbridge, Vt., finished second in the men's competition and Ann Battelle of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was the second woman, the strongest showing of the season by the Americans.

LUGE: Chris Thorpe of Marquette, Mich., and Gordy Sheer of Croton, N.Y., silver medalists at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, had two runs for a combined time of 1:28.804 to win the U.S. men's doubles national title in Park City, Utah.

SPEEDSKATING: Olympic double medalist Chris Witty won the 500- and 1,000-meter races to take a commanding lead after the first day of the U.S. Sprint Speedskating Championships in West Allis, Wis. Witty won the 500-meter race in 39.76 and the 1,000 in 1:18.40, both season bests.

In the men's competition, Kip Carpenter of Brookfield, Wis., won the 500 and Nick Pearson of Vernon, Wis., took the 1,000.

BIATHLON: Russia caught Germany on the final leg to win a women's relay event and retain its lead in the overall standings in Oberhof, Germany.

NORDIC COMBINED: Two-time Olympic champion Bjarte Engen Vik of Norway coasted to his 21st title at a World Cup event in Schonach, Germany. Vik posted the best combined marks in the opening series of jumps and in the 15-kilometer race that followed.

SKI JUMPING: World champion Martin Schmitt won a 120-kilometer World Cup event in Engelberg, Switzerland. Schmitt soared 127 meters on his first jump and 125 on his second.

SPRINT SKIING: Two-time Olympian Marcus Nash of Fryeburg, Maine, ambushed Canadian Phil Villeneuve halfway through the final heat on the way to retaining his national sprint ski title on the 2002 Olympic venue in Midway, Utah. Three-time Olympian Nina Kemppel of Anchorage finished fourth and, as the top U.S. skier, was declared the national champion, giving her six straight U.S. championships and 10 overall.