Franz finished 0.66 seconds ahead of three-time Val Gardena winner Steven Nyman and 0.86 ahead of Swiss rival Beat Feuz, who won the last downhill in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Franz won this race two years ago and has also posted two other podium results in Val Gardena — one in super-G and one in downhill.
A super-G race is scheduled for the Saslong course on Friday followed by the downhill Sunday. The circuit then moves to nearby Alta Badia for a giant slalom and a parallel giant slalom Sunday and Monday, respectively.
Franz was second in Wednesday's opening training, which was led by Travis Ganong of the United States. Ganong placed sixth Thursday.
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