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Alessandro Trovati, Associated Press
Switzerland's Beat Feuz speeds down to the course on his way to winning an alpine ski, World Cup men's downhill race, in Kvitfjell, Norway, Friday, March 11, 2011.

KVITFJELL, Norway — Swiss skier Beat Feuz earned his first World Cup win Friday, beating favorites Didier Cuche and Erik Guay in the downhill.

The 24-year-old Feuz barreled down the Olympiabakken course to win in 1 minute, 47.39 seconds.

"After two years out with a serious injury, this is a dream come true for me," Feuz said. "But as a former junior world champion, I always though I'd get here eventually."

Canadian world champion Guay finished second, 0.05 seconds behind, and Michael Walchhofer of Austria was third, 0.11 back. Cuche, the defending World Cup downhill champion and the current leader in the discipline, was fifth.

Steven Nyman was the top American finisher in 25th place in 1:48.95. Two-time World Cup champion Bode Miller is skipping the last World Cup events of the season for the third consecutive year to spend time with his daughter in San Diego.

The fifth skier, Feuz beamed after reaching the finishing area with the early lead. He stayed in front after 52 competitors raced the course.

"This is the best day of my life," Feuz said.

At the 2007 junior worlds in Austria, Feuz won the downhill, super-G and combined. However, a year later his goals took a hit when he seriously injured his knee while training for a World Cup race in Lake Louise, Alberta.

In his return to the circuit, Feuz had two top-10 finishes in January in Chamonix, France.

Guay won gold in the downhill at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. He also was pleased with his performance.

"It's great to get another podium finish after Garmisch," said Guay, the eighth starter. "Just to put an exclamation mark on it."

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Walchhofer said he reveled in the "perfect" snow conditions. The third-place finish also gives him confidence for the rest of the weekend and next week's World Cup finals in Switzerland.

"It was a very important win for me," Walchhofer said. "I still have a small chance for the downhill World Cup."

The Austrian trails Cuche by 50 points in the downhill standings.

The downhill Friday was a makeup event for a race in December that was canceled because of strong wind and fog in Beaver Creek, Colo. A second downhill will be on Saturday, followed by a super-G on Sunday.