By Steve Keating
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Unheralded Frenchman Brice Roger posted the fastest time in final training on Friday for the alpine ski world championship downhill while Norway's Kjetil Jansrud underscored his status as a gold medal favorite.
Roger, who is without a World Cup podium, topped final practise ahead of Saturday's blue riband event, clocking a time of one minute, 44.04 seconds down the sun-bathed Birds of Prey track with Jansrud, winner of three World Cup downhills including Kitzbuehel, close behind in 1:44.25.
"I feel pretty okay and the skiing is pretty good but I think I will have to step it up a notch for tomorrow," said Jansrud, who injured his shoulder slightly during Thursday's Super-G. "I have to step up my aggressiveness. If we can keep this weather, it will be a good day."
Guillermo Fayed of France also put the French flag near the top of the timing chart with the third best time, followed by American Andrew Weibrecht.
The Austrian challenge will be led by Olympic champion Matthias Mayer and Hannes Reichelt, winner of the Super-G gold on the same layout.
The Austrians have topped the podium in two of the three events so far, winning both Super-G races while Anna Fenninger grabbed a silver in the women's downhill on Friday.
Reichelt and Mayer tuned up for Saturday's showcase by posting the 19th and 20th best times respectively.
Five-time world champion Aksel Lund Svindal, back in action after missing the entire World Cup campaign while recovering from an Achilles injury, marked himself out as a dark horse contender, crossing with the 11th fastest time as the Norwegian bids to add a third downhill gold to his collection.
(Editing by Gene Cherry)