Svindal wins Norway's first downhill gold

Svindal wins Norway's first downhill gold

"I'm feeling great, my first Olympic medal at a Winter Games is something really special", he told reporters after he finished behind Norwegian duo Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud.

In the 70 years of competition, no man has successfully defended the title, which will continue for another four years as Mayer, a surprise victor in Sochi four years ago, was way off the pace on Thursday.

Jansrud's run was nearly the polar opposite to his compatriot's as he attacked the top section with relish to take a couple of tenths of a second off Svindal's time, only to lose control at the death.

After nearly a week of high winds wreaking havoc with the Alpine skiing schedule, the blue riband event of the programme finally got underway four days late in almost ideal conditions.

"At the top I was a bit out of the rhythm", Svindal said.

Aksel Lund Svindal claimed a second Winter Olympics gold medal in thrilling fashion, winning the men's downhill on Thursday.

Feuz was one of the strong favourites going into the race after winning the last men's World Cup downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen before the Games to follow up his downhill victory in Wengen, Switzerland and a second place in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

Svindal excelled on the bottom half of the Jeongseon course after some uneasy moments early in his run. The only time in the race he had led was the one that mattered.

The snow conditions seemed faster than in training runs, and Svindal worked hard to find the best racing line.

Jansrud started three minutes later on a course where he won the only previous downhill, an Olympic test event on the World Cup circuit two years ago when Svindal was injured. Fighting for his title, Svindal clawed it all back and punched the air with his left fist after seeing he had beaten then-leader Feuz.

Ahead at four straight time checks, Jansrud's lead steadily dropped from 0.43 and he was twisted sideways in midair before landing one jump.

Austrian reigning champion Matthias Mayer was surprisingly off the pace, 1.21 seconds behind the victor.

Italian Paris finished fourth with German Thomas Dressen in fifth and both joined other rivals in hailing Svindal.

Numerous speed skiers competing in downhill will return to the snow Thursday in super-G.