Michael Walchhofer led an Austrian sweep at a World Cup downhill yesterday in Val d'Isere, France, while Bode Miller finished seventh and U.S. teammate Daron Rahlves was 14th.

Walchhofer, the defending World Cup champion, finished ahead of reigning Olympic champ Fritz Strobl and Hans Grugger.

"It's a great victory for me," Walchhofer said. "It's a bit of a comeback. Maybe I was too overconfident at the start of the season."

He was seventh in a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, and 10th at Beaver Creek, Colo.

Miller and Rahlves were coming off a 1-2 finish last week at Beaver Creek. This time, Miller shared seventh place with Erik Guay of Canada, and Rahlves knew his skiing was not as crisp as it might have been. "I was back on my skis too much at the top of the course," Rahlves said. "Otherwise, it could have been a much better run, maybe fifth place."

He said the Val d'Isere course is much different from the one at Beaver Creek.

"Beaver Creek is a lot more about risk and fighting," he said. "On this hill you need to relax and be on top of it and let the skis take you down. I just couldn't get in a flow."

Miller gained enough points to move top of the overall standings with 318 points, knocking Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal into second with 307.

Rahlves dropped from second to third with 303 points, with Strobl improving to fourth.

Austria's Hermann Maier, who won the season-opening event at Soelden, Austria, in October, was ninth.

Strobl secured his second top-three finish in the downhill this season after winning the opener at Lake Louise.

* SKI JUMPING: Andreas Kuttel of Switzerland won a World Cup event, his second victory on the circuit this season, in Harrachov, Czech Republic.

Kuttel had a first jump of 136.5 meters and sealed his win with the longest leap of the day in the second round (143.5) for a total of 289.5 points.

* BOBSLED: Todd Hays led the United States to third place in a two-man bobsled race in Igls, Austria, and took the lead in the overall World Cup standings.

Russia 1, with Alexandr Zoubkov and Alexey Voevoda, won in a combined time of 1 minute 46.01 seconds while Switzerland 1 was the runner-up, .02 of a second behind.

Hays, in the United States 1 sled, earned his third top-three finish this season. Earlier, he was second in Lake Placid, N.Y., and third in Calgary, Alberta. Hays has 250 points in the standings, followed by Germany's Andre Lange (242) and Zoubkov (240).

* BIATHLON: Norway earned its second consecutive 24-kilometer women's relay victory at a World Cup event in Hochfilzen, Austria. Frode Andersen and Lars Berger extended Norway's success with a 1-2 finish in the men's 10K sprint.

* SNOWBOARDING: Japan's Kazuhiro Kokubo won the halfpipe competition at a World Cup event in Whistler, British Columbia.