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Innerhofer keeps Austrians at bay in Garmisch

By Manuela Lang

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Reuters) - Italian Christof Innerhofer secured his third World Cup downhill win of the season when he held off a trio of Austrians on the German Kandahar piste on Saturday.

Dubbed "Winnerhofer" when he won the Super-G world title in Garmisch-Partenkirchen two years ago, Innerhofer lived up to his nickname by taking victory in one minute and 37.83 seconds,

On a course he relishes, the Italian followed up wins at Beaver Creek and Wengen by finishing 0.12 ahead of Georg Streitberger.

Klaus Kroell was 0.16 off the pace, followed by Hannes Reichelt and Norway's world champion Aksel Lund Svindal.

Innerhofer, who also won a downhill bronze medal on the same piste in 2011, took advantage of his knowledge of the terrain and improving visibility conditions to bag the sixth World Cup laurels of his career.

"It's like coming back home for me. It's really nice to return to a spot you love so much. It was important to show that two years after my world title, I'm still as good as I was then," he said.

"It was also important to react with a victory straight after the world championships which didn't turn out the way I wanted,".

At the worlds in Schladming, Austria earlier this month, Innerhofer was 14th in the downhill, 7th in the super-G and did not finish the super combined.

The battle for the discipline's crystal globe is extremely tight with two races left.

Svindal is on 359 points, 10 ahead of Italy's Dominik Paris and 15 ahead of Innerhofer, who lost vital points when he was forced to start the Kitzbuehel downhill in 46th position after ignoring a yellow flag in practice.

"I lost a lot of points in Kitzbuehel but I'm not the kind of person who looks back. I'm now setting my sights on Kvitfjell next week," Innerhofer said.

The men's program continues in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Sunday with a giant slalom.

(Reporting by Manuele Lang, editing by Justin Palmer)

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