France's Antoine Deneriaz beat out five Austrians to win yesterday's World Cup men's downhill race in Val Gardena, Italy, ending a long run of dominance by skiing's most successful country.
The top American finisher was Daron Rahlves in 11th place. Teammates Marco Sullivan, Bode Miller and Jakub Fiala finished 14th, 19th and 35th, respectively.
Deneriaz completed the 2.1-mile-long Saslong course in 1 minute 55.95 seconds -- 0.22 seconds ahead of Michael Walchhofer and 0.31 in front of Josef Strobl, both Austrians.
The next three finishers also were Austrian: Fritz Strobl, Werner Franz and Hannes Trinkl.
Deneriaz is the first non-Austrian to win a World Cup downhill race since Italy's Kristian Ghedina took one of two downhills in Val Gardena a year ago.
It was also the first victory for Deneriaz, whose previous best showing was two fourth-place finishes in Val d'Isere, France, one of which came last week.
"I didn't think I would ski so well, but I'm a good glider, so I like this sort of course," he said. "It's a great day; I'm in front of the big team."
The "big team" is Austria, which has lost its best skier. Stephan Eberharter, who won the first three downhills this season, injured his right knee when he crashed during a giant slalom race in France on Dec. 15. He still leads the World Cup overall and downhill standings.
The last Frenchman to win a World Cup downhill was Nicolas Burtin in Kvitfjell, Norway, in 1998. Burtin finished seventh yesterday, 0.70 seconds behind Deneriaz.
* WOMEN'S DOWNHILL: Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister took advantage of early good course conditions to win a World Cup race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
American Kirsten Clark, who won the downhill there last year, finished third, almost a second behind Dorfmeister.
Starting 16th, Dorfmeister aggressively skied the FIS Scalottas course in 1:43.53. The reigning overall World Cup champion edged out teammate Brigitte Obermoser (1:43.99) for her first win of the season.
"If the conditions had remained the same the whole time, I'm not sure I would have won," said Dorfmeister, who finished 12th and fourth in two downhills this year.
"My material and the preparation of my skis also had a lot to do with my victory."
Snow began falling heavily -- greatly decreasing visibility -- when the 25th skier was about to start. The flatter light also caused later starters to miscalculate two key jumps and fresh powder slowed the course down.
Clark, who started aggressively, finished in 1:44.38, edging 18-year-old Swedish rookie Jessica Lindell-Vikarby by .01 seconds.
Olympic downhill champion Carole Montillet of France, who started back in the pack, finished a disappointing 16th. Montillet, who won a Super-G in Val d'Isere, France, last weekend, landed her final jump blindly with a heavy thud, costing her valuable time.
* SKI JUMPING: In Engelberg, Switzerland, Finland's Janne Ahonen put together two stellar efforts to win his first World Cup event of the season. Ahonen collected a total of 271.5 points after soaring 128 meters in his opening jump and 132 meters on his second trip.
Sitting third after the opening round, Ahonen delivered a tremendous second effort, impressive both with his stability in the air and his solid telemark landing, with no sign of a wobble.
* BOBSLED: Ruben Feisthauer of Germany led his four-man team to a World Cup victory in La Plagne, France, with Todd Hays of the United States sharing second place in a race on the 1992 Olympic track.
* CROSS-COUNTRY: German Axel Teichmann won the men's 2x10-kilometer double pursuit in Ramsau, Austria, for his first World Cup victory. Norwegian Bente Skari extended her lead in the women's overall standings with a win in a double pursuit event.