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Alphand upsets powerful Austrian team in downhill

December 20, 1996

VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) _ Defending World Cup downhill champion Luc Alphand of France scored his first victory of the season today, winning his speciality on a shortened course.

Atle Skaardal of Norway and Italy’s Kristian Ghedina finished second and third as the dominant Austrian skiers, who had won five of the last eight races, had their worst showing of the season.

Alphand was timed in one minute, 53.10 seconds down the shortened Saslong course in this north Italian valley.

It was the seventh career victory for Alphand, who edged Skaardal by 0.15 seconds.

Ghedina placed third, with a gap of 0.20.

Italy’s Pietro Vitalini beat another Frenchman, Adrien Duvillard, for fourth place.

The top Austrian finisher, Werner Franz, placed seventh.

The race, the first of back-to-back downhills in Val Gardena, was started one hour later and on a shortened course as fresh snow and fog made the upper part impraticable.

Today’s downhill made up for the speed race canceled at Whistler Mountain, Canada, on Dec. 7 because of snow and fog.

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