Schmidhofer and Feuz seal downhill titles

Soldeu (Andorra) (AFP) –


Nicole Schmidhofer and Beat Feuz both clinched World Cup downhill titles before their final races of the season had ended in Andorra on Wednesday.

Austrian Schmidhofer started the day with a lead of 90 points over compatriot Ramona Siebenhofer in the chase for the small globe awarded to winners of individual disciplines.

When Siebenhofer, who skied fifth, almost fell and finished with a slow time, Schmidhofer, who had already skied, was assured of her first globe.

Feuz secured his second consecutive World Cup downhill title after 16 of the 22 men had competed and he was assured at least a 12th-place finish, giving him an unassailable lead over Italian Dominik Paris.

Paris collected his first World Cup downhill victory of the season in a time of 1min 26.80sec with Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud second, 0.34sec back, and Austrian Otmar Striedinger third.

The Italian cut the gap in the final standings to just 20 points after Feuz finished sixth.

"It was a difficult race, with the pressure of the globe, which does not happen every day," Feuz said.

In the women's race, Mirjam Puchner finished in 1min 32.91sec and edged German Viktoria Rebensburg by 0.03sec and Swiss skier Corinne Suter by 0.08sec for her second career victory.

On a good day for her country, Schmidhofer ended a 12-year women's downhill drought by winning Austria's first globe in the discipline since Renate Goetschl in 2007.

"It's a downhill globe," Schmidhofer. "It's a long time for Austria. In 2007, I met her and ask her to just touch her globe and this was already awesome for me, and now I have my own. I am so happy about it."

This season Schmidhofer has finished on the World Cup downhill podium four times, winning twice in consecutive races in Lake Louise at the start of the season.

That meant she wore the red bib for leader in the standings for almost the entire campaign.

"I thought the red jersey looked good on me," she said.

- 'Very consistent' -

Mikaela Shiffrin opted not to compete on Wednesday, her 24th birthday. The American, already assured of the overall and slalom titles, can add the super-G title on Thursday and the giant slalom title on Saturday. She leads the standings in both disciplines.

The 32-year-old Feuz won the men's title due to his consistency, finishing first just once but on other steps of the podium five times.

"It has been very important these past two years to be very consistent. I had not been able to do that before because of my many injuries," Feuz said.

Paris insisted he had enjoyed the battle.

"It was very hard to beat Beat this season. He was always on the podium," said Paris, who when he is not on the slopes is lead singer in a heavy metal band and has the super-G final to look forward to.

He heads the standings but is in a five-man battle for the small globe.