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December 20, 2008 — VAL GARDENA, Italy - Reigning World Cup overall champion Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) led the way in second as five U.S. racers finished in the top 10 in an Audi FIS World Cup downhill in Val Gardena, Italy on Saturday. It was the first time five American men had finished in the top-10 at a World Cup.
"To stand in the finish and watch teammate after teammate come down and punch in there is awesome," said Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) who finished fourth. "There was a lot of energy in the finish and a lot of excitement with the coaches. It was just a good day and I think the team is going to build off this weekend."
Following Sullivan was Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID) who was seventh, Steven Nyman (Provo, UT) who was ninth and TJ Lanning (Park City, UT) who was 10th. Scott Macartney (Crystal Mountain, WA) finished 15th and Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) 28th, allowing all U.S. men who competed to finish in the top 30.
Sullivan, who's no stranger to success in the World Cup arena, said he's happy to have the consistency he's experienced so far this season.
"To be in the top five twice in two days is really cool," Sullivan said. "I feel like I'm skiing really solid right now and I just need that one more piece of the puzzle to really find the intensity to go for the win. But, I've been skiing really strong and I'm happy. I'm in a good place."
Fisher built upon the success of his first World Cup top 20 in Friday's super G to finish seventh in the downhill - creating another spot for U.S. athletes in World Cup downhill races.
"This is my first top 10, so it's a big step. It's been good so far this year and it feels good to ski fast after an injury and know I still have the speed in me," Fisher said. "It was really cool to be up there with all the guys - five of us in the top 10. It's never been done before and it's cool to be a part of that."
Men's Alpine Head Coach Sasha Rearick was especially proud of Fisher's performance as he started 52nd in the downhill and raced his way into seventh.
"Today he hung it out there, skied aggressively and tactically very well. It was the best performance of the day in terms of going out and stepping it up a level," Rearick said. "I am excited about the day, but I'm probably the most proud about Fisher."
According to Fisher, this success only pushes him further for future races.
"It's definitely a confidence booster," Fisher said. "At the beginning of the year I was struggling so I needed a little help with my confidence but now I know I can compete with these guys and now it's game on."
Lanning completed America's day in the ski racing history books as he finished 10th for two season top-10 finishes.
"I'm stoked for another top 10. My starting number today wasn't the most advantageous in terms of all the snow on the course, but I skied every part of the course as well as I could have," Lanning said. "To have three downhills and three top 15s is great. Consistency is what I have lacked in the past and this is great because you can't learn much about World Cup racing without consistency."
The men now move into tech events in Alta Badia with a giant slalom on Sunday and a slalom on Monday before taking a break for the holidays. The next downhill is in Bormio, Italy Dec.28.
Men's World Cup downhill, Val Gardena, Italy
1. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 1:50.57
2. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 1:50.95
3. Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Canada, 1:51.11
4. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA, 1:51.25
5. Erik Guay, Canada, 1:51.33
7. Erik Fisher, Middleton, ID, 1:51.90
9. Steven Nyman, Provo, UT, 1:51.98
10. TJ Lanning, Park City, UT, 1:52.09
15. Scott Macartney, Crystal Mountain, WA 1:52.54
28. Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, NY, 1:53.14
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