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    Aksel Lund Svindal tops in downhill world

    Aksel Lund Svindal took a near-perfect line in the downhill and beat his nearest competitor by nearly a half-second.
    Aksel Lund Svindal took a near-perfect line in the downhill and beat his nearest competitor by nearly a half-second.

    Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway won the men’s downhill title at the Alpine world championships Saturday in Schladming, Austria, after a powerful run down the Planai course that no one came close to matching.

    Watched by thousands of spectators, Svindal kept a near-perfect line down the icy and bumpy course despite foggy conditions that caused problems for several skiers. The Norwegian finished in 2 minutes 1.32 seconds to win by nearly a half-second.

    ‘‘I knew I could not have skied better here,’’ said Svindal, who raised both arms in the air and shouted out in celebration after his run. ‘‘I took a lot of risks. It was a tough race. Visibility wasn’t good and the course was difficult. At the finish, I was exhausted, in my head as well.’’


    Dominik Paris of Italy, who leads this season’s World Cup downhill standings, trailed Svindal by 0.46 in second. David Poisson of France finished third, 0.97 behind.

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    Svindal added to his 2007 world downhill title, earning his fifth world title overall. His father, Bjoern, was among the first to congratulate the champion in the finish area.

    The rest of the field, led by Klaus Kroell of Austria in fourth, finished more than a second off Svindal’s winning time. Defending champion Erik Guay of Canada failed to finish, narrowly avoiding a crash and missing a gate.

    The women’s downhill is Sunday.

    Figure skating — Kevin Reynolds of Canada upstaged favorite Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan to win the Four Continents event in Osaka, Japan, with a near-flawless free skate.


    Reynolds was only sixth after Friday’s short program but landed three quads and finished with 250.55 points at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium. Hanyu led after the short program, but settled for second with 246.38 points, while China’s Han Yan was third.

    US national champion Max Aaron, who was 10th after the short program, finished fourth after a strong free skate to music from ‘‘West Side Story.’’

    Earlier, two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan reintroduced her trademark triple axel to take a comfortable lead over compatriots Akiko Suzuki and Kanako Murakami in the women’s competition.

    Americans Cristina Gao and Gracie Gold were fourth and fifth, respectively.

    The 22-year-old Reynolds, who is a crowd favorite in Japan, opened with a quad salchow and also landed two quad loops in his routine. His only deduction was on a triple lutz.


    ‘‘This is beyond anything I could have imagined,’’ Reynolds said.

    ‘‘Going into the free program I was in sixth place, so I knew I had a chance if I did everything right in the free skate.’’