Val D'Isere, France Dec. 8 (AP)--The U.S. team, whose equipment was lost on the flight over to Europe, was forced to borrow gear Wednesday for a World Cup downhill training session.
Chad Fleischer of Vail, Colo., who finished second in the final downhill last season, used an assortment of equipment belonging to various teams.
``I was wearing skis from the Austrian team, had Hermann's (Maier) poles, and borrowed a yellow racing suit from the Canadians,'' Fleischer said. ``I was also wearing some yellow Austrian helmet instead of my snow leopard one. ``It was pretty funny, and everybody was laughing at us. Everyone was doing double takes. No one could recognize us.''
But racing on unfamiliar skis slowed the Americans, with Fleischer finishing a distant 38th in 2 minutes, 2.17 seconds, almost three seconds off the pace..
Daron Rahlves of Truckee, Calif., using equipment from the Norwegian and Canadian teams, was 51st in 2:03.76, while Christopher Puckett, wearing ``Canadian everything,'' trailed in 60th place, almost five seconds back.
``Even we couldn't recognized each other among ourselves,'' Fleischer laughed.
Kristian Ghedina of Italy, seeking his first victory in almost a year, had the quickest time, crossing in 1:59.39.
``I'm very satisfied with my run,'' said Ghedina, who has 10 career downhill wins. ``I haven't been doing well recently and this is a big boost to my confidence. I really want to win Sunday's downhill to finally kick-start my season.''
Maier, the Olympic and world champion, and Austrian teammate Roland Assinger had the second-best times, both crossing in 1:59.88. Six Austrians finished among the top-10.
``To beat the Austrians, it's not enough just to ski well,'' Ghedina said. ``You have to really attack. That is the only way to beat them.''
Copyright © 1999 The Associated Press