By Jane Barrett VAL GARDENA, Italy (Reuters) - Austria's Stephan Eberharter bounced back on to the podium on Saturday, winning the second Val Gardena downhill and extending his lead in the men's World Cup standings. Eberharter, who was pipped into fourth place in Friday's downhill, shot out of the starting gate on Saturday and sped down the Saslong piste in two minutes 01.24 seconds. ``I got my best start so far here and got a close line so that's the reason I was so fast today,'' Eberharter said after clocking an average speed of 102.32 kph. Austrian Michael Walchhofer, who came third in last week's Val d'Isere downhill, was delighted with second place on Saturday, 0.22 seconds behind Eberharter. Veteran Norwegian Kjetil Andre Aamodt was third in 2:01.50. Eberharter has dominated the men's season so far with two downhill and one super-G wins in the last nine days plus two lesser podium places. The flow of results has given the 32-year-old Austrian a 165-point lead in the overall World Cup standings, ahead of American Bode Miller. In the downhill World Cup, Eberharter is 85 points clear at the top of the table. ``I'm very happy. It's going very well so I just hope I can continue this form,'' said Eberharter, who is showing great pre-Olympic form while compatriot and arch-rival Hermann Maier is out with injury. ``We have another tough race tomorrow so I am going to have to recover as soon as possible. I won't be going out for a beer tonight,'' Eberharter said, before heading across the mountains to Alta Badia for Sunday's giant slalom. Eberharter's victory spelled disappointment for the Italian team, especially Friday's winner Kristian Ghedina who was hoping for a record-breaking fifth win on the Saslong piste. Instead Ghedina took fourth place, 0.32 seconds behind the Austrian. ``It was a shame to miss it,'' Ghedina said. ``I was really tired last night so I got an early night but I was nervous and definitely felt a bit of pressure.'' His team mate Kurt Sulzenbacher, third on Friday and second in Val d'Isere last weekend, failed to finish Saturday's race after skiing off the marked course. Austrian Stephan Eberharter passes a gate during the men's alpine ski World Cup downhill race December 15, 2001. Eberharter won the race as his team mate Michael Walchhofer was second and Norwegian Kjetil Andre Aamodt third. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters)


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