Beat Feuz grabs Olympic gold in downhill; Johan Clarey makes history with silver in Beijing

BEIJING -- Beat Feuz finally has the one major victory missing from his overflowing collection of downhill achievements: Olympic gold.

The diminutive Swiss skier mastered a tricky course that had never been raced before by the world's best and finished a slim 0.10 seconds ahead of 41-year-old Johan Clarey of France on Monday.

"I can't think of anything more beautiful than flying home with a gold medal around my neck,'' Feuz said.

Feuz won a silver medal in super-G and bronze in downhill at the 2018 Olympics and is the four-time reigning World Cup downhill champion. He also won the downhill world title in 2017 and holds the career record of 45 World Cup podium finishes in the sport's fastest discipline.

"It was perfect weather, no wind, and I was just standing perfectly on the skis,'' Feuz said. "The Olympics are a big thing. ... Today everything came together."

Clarey became the oldest man to win an Olympic medal in Alpine skiing. The previous oldest was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took the bronze in super-G in 2014.

"When you are a medalist (whether) you are 20 or 41 it doesn't matter," Clarey said. "It's just an Olympic medal. It's already a good memory.''

Two-time Olympic champion Matthias Mayer of Austria was 0.16 behind and added a bronze medal to his career haul.

It's been a quite a few weeks for the 5-foot-8 Feuz, who is second in this season's downhill standings: His second daughter was born, he won the most prestigious World Cup downhill in Kitzbuhel, Austria, and now he has an Olympic gold medal.

Feuz will be a contender for another medal in Tuesday's super-G. Then he'll fly back to Switzerland.

"In 40 hours I'm looking forward to being at home and having my family back in my arms,'' he said.

When he reached the finish, Feuz flipped his ski into the air then caught it in one swift motion -- a tribute to former Swiss downhiller Didier Cuche, who used to celebrate that way.

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway, a popular pick to win because he leads the World Cup downhill standings and was fastest in Friday's training session, finished fifth, a half-second behind Fuez.

"I had high expectations for myself today, but it didn't go 100% as planned,'' Kilde said.

The race was originally scheduled for Sunday but was postponed a day because of strong winds on The Rock Course.

The wind was less of an issue on Monday.

Jack Crawford of Canada was a surprise fourth-place finisher -- missing the podium by only 0.07 seconds. Italian standout Dominik Paris came sixth and overall World Cup leader Marco Odermatt was seventh in his Olympic debut.

With skiers reaching speeds of nearly 90 mph on a narrow course, several racers lost control.

Dominik Schwaiger of Germany, the second starter, was taken away in a sled after falling midway down. He landed on his back then slid down the mountain and grazed the safety nets. He was holding his left arm in apparent pain once he stopped.

Daniel Hemetsberger, another Swiss skier, had his face bloodied -- apparently from when he hit a gate. Also, Broderick Thompson of Canada crashed on a flatter part of the course but quickly got up and appeared to be OK.