LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — Aksel Lund Svindal made a triumphant return to World Cup downhill in a place that has been good to him, winning the first race of the season Saturday.
The 32-year-old Norwegian star Svindal recovered from a mistake on the upper third of the course to beat Italy's Peter Fill of Italy by a hundredth of a second in the season-opening race for his fifth Lake Louise victory.
"That one mistake was a little bit bigger than it should have been and I definitely thought that I lost it there," Svindal said. "I just had to nail the bottom part."
Svindal has nine career downhill victories and 26 overall World Cup wins. He sat out most of last season because of a torn Achilles tendon sustained playing soccer a few weeks before the opener.
"Lake Louise has always been good to me," Svindal said. "After being away from the World Cup for a full year, a year and a half really, it's a good place for me to start."
American Travis Gangong was third.
A super-G is set for Sunday. Svindal won the Olympic super-G in 2010 and three of his Lake Louise victories are in the event.
Fellow Norwegian star Kjetil Jansrud, the overall World Cup champion in super-G and downhill last season, was ninth in the opener.
"I had a good line, but suddenly I hit a little rut and straight into another bump and kind of lost my balance and had to halfway go down to bring it back," Jansrud said. "I wasn't as solid as I'd hoped to be."
"Our sport, there's a lot of good guys in it so if you make a mistake, you're not in the top and that's the way it should be. Aksel winning, I know we're good enough and I will be back in the fight tomorrow."