01/28/2012 07:22 EST | Updated 03/29/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada's Erik Guay races to silver in shortened World Cup downhill in Garmisch

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany - Canada's Erik Guay showed once again why his teammates call him the "King of Garmisch."

The 30-year-old from Mont-Tremblant, Que., overcame a near-crash to race to a second-place finish Saturday in a World Cup downhill on the same course where he claimed his world championship title last year.

"I don't know the exact reason why Garmisch works for me. I just feel like I'm unstoppable when I get here, from the training runs to the race, to whatever the conditions are," Guay said on a conference call. "I'm obviously super happy to be on the podium today, especially with some of the mistakes I made on the way down."

Guay appeared poised for victory before Didier Cuche of Switzerland laid down an almost flawless run to beat the Canadian by 0.27 seconds.

Hannes Reichelt of Austria was third.

Jan Hudec of Calgary was 12th, Ben Thomsen of Invermere, B.C., was 23rd, while Conrad Pridy of Whistler, B.C., finished 25th.

Guay, still feeling the effects of a cold, had a rocky run on the course, nearly hit the snow with his hip on the section known as the "Ice Hang," then almost crossed skis and veered off his line before making up ground on the bottom portion of the course.

"I just didn't see the hole that was there and my boot hit the snow and I simply booted out and lost a lot of elevation," said Guay. "Made a really great recovery. I think that if I tried it 20 times I probably wouldn't be able to replicate that recovery.

"So with that mistake I'm extremely happy with where I ended up."

Guay has done well on the Kandahar course, recording five World Cup podiums and clinching the super-G World Cup by winning the last race of the 2010 season there.

Guay, who planned to skip Saturday's medal ceremony to rest in hopes of curing his cold, was scheduled to race the super-G on Sunday.

"I can tell you I'm aiming for a podium, pushing for a podium, and whether it's realistic or not I guess we'll see," Guay said. "I've been hot and cold in the super-G, so we'll see who shows up (Sunday)."

Saturday's podium performance was bonus for the Canadian skier, whose goal this season was simply to remain healthy after battling back problems for a couple of seasons.

"I have some days that it's obviously a little tight and doesn't feel quite 100 per cent but there are other days like today where my back has felt incredible, no issues at all," Guay said. "My focus is on my back, I want to make sure that I stay healthy throughout the season, and if I can collect podiums on the way there, then that's kind of just a bonus."

Cuche, meanwhile, is retiring at the top of his game.

The 37-year-old is making sure his farewell season is a memorable one — winning his second consecutive World Cup downhill race on a shortened Kandahar course.

Cuche covered the 1,890-metre course — down from the normal 3,256 metres — in one minute 9.10 seconds.

Cuche was coming off his record fifth win in Kitzbuehel, Austria, which was also run on a shortened course, and where he announced that he was retiring at the end of the season.

"I am very proud of this win today," Cuche said.

Cuche's third downhill victory of the season took him to the top of the discipline standings. Cuche's most successful season was 2009-10, when he won five races. He now has 20 for his career.

"There are still five downhills and 500 points and it's going to be close, but today it looks good," Cuche said.

Thick fog forced organizers to lower the starting gate, taking a significant chunk out of the classic course — nearly half of the vertical drop — and making the race about 50 seconds shorter.

"It was clear to me early today that they would have to shorten it, the fog was very thick at the top and it wasn't going away," said Cuche, a former butcher who also won on the Kandahar course eight years ago.

"It was good to know that we would race and that we would start on time, even if it was shorter," he said.

Christof Innerhofer is another skier who seems to thrive on the slope in southern Germany.

The Italian finished in a tie for fourth with Andrej Sporn of Slovenia.

Innerhofer won the super-G gold medal at the world championship last year, silver in the super-combined and bronze in the downhill.

Bode Miller of the United States was penalized for showing up a few minutes late for Friday's draw and had to start 46th rather than 16th. Miller did well early on the course and was close to Cuche but lost speed at the bottom and finished outside the top 30 who win points.

— With files from The Associated Press.