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Bennett adds to US success in Val Gardena with downhill win

Bryce Bennett added to a long list of American success in Val Gardena by winning the first classic downhill of the World Cup season on Saturday.

Bennett joins teammate Steven Nyman (three downhill victories) and Bode Miller (one super-G victory) as American winners at the resort in the Dolomites.

For his first career victory, the 6-foot-7 Bennett finished 0.14 seconds ahead of Otmar Striedinger of Austria and 0.32 ahead of Niels Hintermann of Switzerland.

United States' Bryce Bennett, left, the winner, poses with United States' Steven Nyman after completing the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill race, in Val Gardena, Italy, Saturday, Dec.18, 2021. (AP PhotoAlessandro Trovati)

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the Austrian who had won three straight races on the Saslong course, went off line toward the end of his run after posting faster split times than Bennett.

Kilde narrowly avoided crashing but could not recover in time to clear the next gate.

Bennett had never finished better than fourth (twice in Val Gardena and once in Bormio) and now can go to the upcoming Beijing Olympics with newfound confidence.

Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde loses his balance as he speeds down the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill race, in Val Gardena, Italy, Saturday, Dec.18, 2021. (AP PhotoGabriele Facciotti)

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United States' Bryce Bennett speeds down the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill race, in Val Gardena, Italy, Saturday, Dec.18, 2021. (AP PhotoGabriele Facciotti)

United States' Bryce Bennett reacts after completing the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill race, in Val Gardena, Italy, Saturday, Dec.18, 2021. (AP PhotoAlessandro Trovati)

Austria's Otmar Striedinger speeds down the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill race, in Val Gardena, Italy, Saturday, Dec.18, 2021. (AP PhotoGabriele Facciotti)