Austrian skier Klaus Kroell was fastest in a World Cup downhill practice run at Chamonix, France on Thursday, while Mario Scheiber became the second Austrian in as many weeks to be airlifted to hospital following a training crash.

Kroell, who won the downhill two weeks ago on the Lauberhorn course at Wengen, Switzerland, finished in two minutes, 2.53 seconds. He was 0.04 seconds quicker than countryman Georg Streitberger and 0.10 clear of Italy's Christoph Innerhofer.

Benjamin Thomsen and Manny Osborne-Paradis were the best Canadians, finishing 28th and 29th, respectively. Both crossed the line more than two seconds off the fastest time.

Ryan Semple of Ottawa crashed and suffered a knee injury. An Alpine Canada spokesman did not have specific details on the injury, but Canadian teammate Erik Guay said via Twitter that it was "partial ACL and MCL." Guay also said Semple, who was sent home to Canada, wouldn't require surgery.

Semple is the latest member of the Canadian team to go down. Guay, who was 36th in Thursday's training, missed an event earlier this month with a sore back while Francois Bourque (knee), Jan Hudec (hand), Louis-Pierre Helie (concussion, knee) and Kelly McBroom (broken ankle) have all been sidelined with injuries.

Scheiber stable

A week after Austrian teammate Hans Grugger was seriously injured during a training run on the Streif course in Kitzbuehel, Austria, Scheiber lost control of his skis Thursday after a right turn and flew into the safety net.

Scheiber broke his right shoulder blade and fractured his sinuses but escaped without serious head injuries.

He was airlifted to the nearby Sallanches hospital, and Austrian team doctor Martin Gruber said he was "responsive and in stable condition."

"Mario has broken his right shoulder blade. Also, he broke his nasal bone and fractured his sinuses," Gruber said in a statement. "The good news is, there are no bleedings in the brain. Skull, backbone, arms and legs are all unhurt."

He added that the 27-year-old Scheiber would remain hospitalized overnight for monitoring.

Scheiber finished fourth in the World Cup downhill in Kitzbuehel.

Grugger needed emergency brain surgery after his near-fatal crash last week, and has been kept in an induced coma at a hospital in Innsbruck. Doctors began the process of waking him on Tuesday.

The Chamonix downhill race goes Saturday at 5:55 a.m. ET on Bold and CBCSports.ca, with a replay at 2 p.m. ET on CBC-TV and CBCSports.ca

Paerson tops women's training in Italy

Swedish standout Anja Paerson led the opening training session Thursday for a World Cup downhill in Sestriere, Italy.

Paerson covered the Kandahar Banchetta course in one minute, 41.44 seconds. Tina Maze of Slovenia was second and Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn was third.

Britt Janyk was the top Canadian, finishing 30th, more than three seconds off Paerson's pace.

Overall World Cup leader Maria Riesch was 10th. Riesch has won three downhills to Vonn's two this season.

Paerson is seeking her first win of the season.

Another training session is scheduled for Friday, followed by the downhill race Saturday (Live on Bold, CBCSports.ca at 4:25 a.m. ET; replay on CBC-TV at 12 p.m. ET) and a super-combined Sunday.

With files from CBCSports.ca and The Canadian Press