Sochi 2014: Austria's Matthias Mayer wins men's downhill gold

Austrian Matthias Mayer stormed to victory in the men's Olympic downhill as favourites Bode Miller and Aksel Lund Svindal missed out on a medal.

Mayer, 23, competing in his first Olympics, went one better than his father Helmut who won silver in Super-G at the Calgary Games in 1988.

He clocked two minutes 06.23 seconds down one of the most challenging and certainly the longest Olympic downhill course ever to beat Italy's Christof Innerhofer by 0.06secs.

Norway's Kjetil Jansrud was third, 0.10 secs adrift, with World Cup downhill leader Svindal 0.29secs back in fourth.

American Miller, 36, bidding for a sixth Olympic medal and second gold, was fastest in two of the three training runs on the steep, icy track above Rosa Khutor village but was unable to replicate his pace on an overcast race day and finished eighth.

"I was looking to win and I thought I had a good chance at it and I was well prepared, so it's tough when things don't go your way," said Miller, who won downhill bronze in Vancouver four years ago. "It was one of those days, I skied pretty well and was pretty aggressive and took a lot of risks.

"I made a couple of small mistakes but not the sort of mistakes that cost you a lot of time.

Did you know?

  • Mayer made his Austrian debut in 2009
  • His best downhill finish this season prior to this race was fifth in Bormio
  • Only five men have ever won two Olympic downhill medals - Guy Perillat and Franck Piccard of France, Bernhard Russi and Peter Mueller of Switzerland, and Norway's Lasse Kjus

"The visibility has changed a ton since the training runs. We had better conditions then, and now with the humidity the snow changed a lot. That was the biggest factor. The middle and bottom slowed down so much from the beginning of the race until when I went that I think you would have had to do something magical to have won."

Svindal, the defending Olympic super-G champion and downhill silver medallist in 2010, consoled himself that fourth place was an occupational hazard of ski racing.

"I've been fourth a few times and I've won a few times. That's racing," said the 31-year-old. "If you can't take a fourth place then you can't be a racer. You don't get 100% used to it, but you get used to it.

"I didn't start as I wanted to but I have some more chances. Super-G and this were equal chances for me. I've burned one, I've got one to go."

Mayer, who becomes the first Austrian to win downhill gold since Fritz Strobl in Salt Lake City in 2002, has never won a World Cup downhill race and was 13th in the World Championships in 2013.

But after beginning 11th out of the 50 racers in the field he continued a trend of toppling favourites in the Olympic downhill.

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"The set-up, the curves and terrain suited me very well and I knew I could be really fast," he said afterwards.

"Two years ago, at the World Cup race here, I really got a feel for the hill at inspection. I knew I'd be coming here in two years' time so I needed to train towards that. In training every summer, when I was working on my fitness I always imagined I was standing here at the start.

"Everybody knew Bode could be the Olympic winner, but I knew in the last two intermediate times I can be very fast, therefore I stopped my training yesterday and saved some power for today, and I think that was good and very important for me."

Innerhofer, 29, also won his first Olympic medal, while Jansrud, 28, added to his giant slalom silver from Vancouver.

Defending champion Didier Defago of Switzerland was the 27th man out of the start gate and drew gasps from the crowd in the finish area as he posted the fastest time on the first two splits.

But the 36-year-old was unable to become the first two-time winner of the Olympic downhill and slowed over the bottom section to finish 14th.