Defending Olympic downhill champ Defago faces tough battle

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U.S. downhill skier Bode Miller and Swiss counterpart Didier Defago, both 36 years old, are the oldest competitors in this year’s Olympic field. But while Miller topped the first day of downhill training on Rosa Khutor’s alpine course, 2010 Olympic champ Defago had a rough one, placing 26th in the session.

Defago had come into Sochi with some momentum after earning an FIS World Cup super-G victory on Jan. 26 in Kitzbuhel, Austria. But the four-time Olympian finished 2.44 seconds behind Miller.

Nonetheless, Defago stayed positive in his comments to reporters, indicating that the course is one that suits him.

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“I feel good…Nothing’s impossible,” he said. “I’ll have to fight. There are two or three key stretches in my mind that are the key ones and I need to work on those tomorrow.”

Defago has only claimed two World Cup podiums since winning the Olympic downhill title in Vancouver four years ago. He also injured his left knee in a training crash in Austria late in 2010, which caused him to miss that year’s entire World Cup campaign.