Millie Knight: Paralympic skier wins World Championship downhill gold

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GB's Millie Knight wins World downhill gold

Britain's Millie Knight and guide Brett Wild won downhill gold on the opening day of the World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Italy.

The visually impaired 18-year-old, GB's youngest athlete at the Sochi 2014 Paralympics, completed the course in one minute 13.42 seconds.

Five-time Paralympic champion Henrieta Farkasova of Slovakia was 1.2secs behind in second.

"That felt amazing," Knight told BBC Sport.

There was a moment of concern for Knight at the end of her run when she hit the crash barrier and became lodged under it. She had to be treated by doctors after feeling dizzy and sick, but is set to be fit for her second competition on Thursday.

Team-mate Menna Fitzpatrick and guide Jennifer Kehoe were fifth.

Knight has dominated the World Cup circuit in recent months, winning 11 medals - seven of them gold.

The Canterbury skier claimed silver and bronze medals in technical events - slalom and giant slalom - at the 2015 World Championships as she was too young to compete in speed events.

"I love the downhill and speed is definitely my strength," she said.

"It was an amazing feeling to win, but we came here just thinking about doing our best and not winning the medals, but we've done it all and I'm so chuffed."

Wales' Fitzpatrick won the overall World Cup title in her debut season last year but broke a hand before this campaign and only returned to training in December.

"Today was so much fun and that's what downhill racing should be about," she told BBC Sport.

"I think my expectations were a bit high after the injury and I expected a bit too much too soon, but we're making progress and I'm learning all of the time."

James Whitley, Britain's other competitor in action on Wednesday, finished 12th in the men's standing event.

GB's first Winter Paralympic champion, Kelly Gallagher, was forced to withdraw after dislocating an elbow and breaking three ribs during a training run on Monday.

Analysis

World gold demonstrates why the British team are so excited about Millie Knight's prospects at next year's Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang.

Historical records aren't complete for many Paralympic sports, but GB officials are confidently claiming Knight's success is Britain's first-ever World Para skiing title - an incredible achievement.

With four-time Paralympic medallist Jade Etherington retiring after Sochi 2014 and Paralympic gold medallist Kelly Gallagher struggling with injuries and form since her previous guide - Charlotte Evans - retired, Knight shows GB can still excel on the snow.

And the talented teenager will be back in the hunt for another honour in the Super G event on Thursday.

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