(Selva Di Val Gardena) Dominik Paris is back. The Italian skier dominated a World Cup downhill in Val Gardena, earning his first victory in more than a year.

For Italy, it was a first home victory in the discipline in over 20 years.

The 34-year-old Paris smiled broadly after crossing the finish line almost half a second faster than Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.

He then faced a long wait as leader.

But as more and more skiers had worse times, the outcome became more and more likely and Paris’ smile beamed even more.

“It’s a very significant victory for me,” Paris said. I have always had difficulty on this slope. I made mistakes this time too, but the training day and the downhill on Thursday gave me confidence.

“In recent years I’ve wanted to do too much here. This time I tried to be more relaxed, to make the difference on the jumps which are very long. My time was a surprise, even to me. »

Paris was the only one to achieve a time of less than two minutes.

With its 18th downhill World Cup victory, Paris joined Stephan Eberharter in third place in history.

Only Franz Klammer (25) and Peter Müller (19) have more downhill victories than Paris.

“I will try to bring this energy to Bormio,” said Paris, referring to the upcoming speed races.

A downhill and super-G are planned for December 28-29 on the Stelvio, where he has triumphed seven times.

Most of Paris’ victories came before he tore his knee in a fall in training in January 2020.

He went on to win three races but his last victory came in March 2022 in Kvitfjell, Norway.

Since then, Paris has only finished on the podium once.

He finished 11th in another downhill at Val Gardena on Thursday, but 55th in a super-G on Friday.

“I want to share this victory with the whole team,” Paris said.

He finished 0.44 seconds ahead of Kilde.

The American Bryce Bennett, victorious on Thursday, finished third, 0.60 behind Paris.

“Dominik is back where he belongs,” Kilde said. He’s a great skier. It’s really nice for the Italians to win at home. »

Canadian James Crawford finished in fifth place.

Giant slaloms will take place in Alta Badia on Sunday and Monday.