Alpine Skiing - Brilliant Svindal delivers Norway's first downhill gold

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The American also won bronze in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic downhill, while Svindal got silver.

Though it might not have the raw edges of Kitzbuehel's dreaded Hahnenkamm, the toughest run on the World Cup circuit, racers still touched motoroway-coasting speeds of 125 kmh and launched themselves upwards of 40 metres on a couple of the jumps.

The oldest Olympic medalist in Alpine racing is still Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in super-G at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Pyeongchang Olympics Alpine Skiing
Alpine Skiing - Brilliant Svindal delivers Norway's first downhill gold

The marquee race, postponed from Sunday because of high winds, is known as the ultimate test of raw speed, although the downhill thrills had been somewhat diluted on a course judged too tame by some of skiing's daredevils.

Winning - at any age - at the Olympics feels pretty good. "I knew I had to do something special today to catch up and it nearly worked out according to plan", he said.

A year after undergoing more surgery on a body that has had more than its fair share of injuries, however, Svindal stormed down the bottom half of the Pyeongchang piste to erase the anomaly in one minute, 40.25 seconds. "To lose to these two Norwegians is not a problem - they have been on top for years".

"Axel has been hurt several times and we know that on a run like this he is always extremely unsafe, so the two Norwegians are top of my list of competitors".

The big Norwegian trailed Feuz by 0.23 at halfway but then mastered the lower section. He took a tight angle across a tricky side hill, went wide at one turn, and fought through the air off one big jump.

The 32-year-old knew he had blown it and his body language after crossing the line contrasted starkly with a visible sigh of relief from Svindal waiting under the scoreboard.

"I think it's a little bit odd, to be honest, that we're having the Olympics and there's that few people in the stands, and it's a bit sad", Svindal said. The Austrian was a surprise victor in Sochi four years ago, clinching gold despite never finishing higher than fifth in a World Cup downhill before.

Italian Paris finished fourth with German Thomas Dressen in fifth and both joined other rivals in hailing Svindal. "I think it's incredible what he's achieved".

"I think I pushed just to the right amount and felt fast", said the new Olympic champion, who never led at a time split until the finish.