Olympic champion Fritz Strobl won the season-opening downhill yesterday in Lake Louise, Alberta, for his ninth career World Cup victory.
The Austrian sped down the relatively flat and shortened Olympic course in 1 minute 40.96 seconds, .09 ahead of another veteran, Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway. Liechtenstein's Marco Buechel was third in 1:41.11, edging four-time overall champion Hermann Maier of Austria.
"Sure, I'm a little surprised," Strobl said. "I don't really know what I did. The day was a bit of a whirlwind. I forgot my racing suit at the hotel this morning, so then I was in a hurry and a bit of a panic. I had no time to think about the race or how I was going to run it."
Several of the top contenders who started later, such as reigning World Cup overall champion Bode Miller, were surprisingly slow. Miller finished 21st, 1.47 seconds off the pace.
Miller avoided reporters following the race, jumping a fence to make his escape.
* SPEEDSKATING: Jennifer Rodriguez and Shani Davis gave the U.S. team a sweep in the 1,000 meters in a World Cup event in West Allis, Wis.
Rodriguez had a winning time of 1:15.50, and Davis won in 1:08.33 at the Pettit National Ice Center.
Davis, who set the 1,000 world record of 1:07.03 in a World Cup race last weekend in Salt Lake City, said he felt good in breaking the Pettit mark of 1:09.14 that he set Oct. 21 at U.S. team trials.
"Because it's an improvement," Davis said. "As long as I'm improving, I'm pretty happy if it's a world record or a rink record."
Rodriguez, who won bronze in the 1,000 and 1,500 at the 2002 Olympics, was more excited about how she raced.
"It's not really too much about winning," Rodriguez said. "I had a really solid race. I really didn't make any mistakes. All my other races, it's always been a little bobble here, a little something stupid there. This time everything was going right, so I had a really good race."
China's Manli Wang won the women's 500 and Kang Seok Lee took the men's 500.
* FIGURE SKATING: Evgeni Plushenko won the Cup of Russia Grand Prix in St. Petersburg with a free program that was off his best, but good enough to easily beat world champion Stephane Lambiel. American Johnny Weir was third after missing two intended triples.
World champion Irina Slutskaya won the women's event with a personal-best free program score. Slutskaya's final score of 198.06 was more than 25 points ahead of second-place Miki Ando of Japan. Yoshie Onda of Japan won the bronze. Emily Hughes of the United States was fifth, behind Finland's Susanna Poykio.
* LUGE: Markus Kleinheinz of Austria edged Tony Benshoof of the United States by .015 of a second to win a World Cup singles race in Altenberg, Germany.
Benshoof is tied with Russia's Albert Demtschenko for the overall standings lead with 240 points.
* BIATHLON: In Ostersund, Sweden, Stian Eckhoff of Norway and Uschi Disl of Germany combined perfect shooting with fast cross-country skiing to win the World Cup season openers.
* CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Marit Bjorgen of Norway won the women's 10-kilometer classic style race in Kuusamo, Finland, her third straight World Cup victory,
In the men's 15K classic, Germany's Tobias Angerer edged Norway's Jens Arne Svartedal. American Carl Swenson was 11th.
* SKI JUMPING: Jakub Janda of Finland won the World Cup opener with a single jump, and Slovenia's Robert Kranjec captured his first career win with two jumps.
After Friday's event in Kuusamo, Finland, was canceled because of heavy snow, the International Ski Federation decided to hold a one-jump competition followed by another with the regular two jumps.
-- From News Services