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SOCHI SCENE: 'Everybody was freaking out'

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SOCHI SCENE: 'Everybody was freaking out'
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Austria's Matthias Mayer has his photo taken by volunteers near the finish area after completing men's downhill combined training at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) -- Matthias Mayer's Olympic downhill victory got quite a reception back home in ski-loving Austria.

''Everybody was happy,'' Mayer said with a wide-as-can-be smile on Thursday, four days after earning his gold medal. ''Everybody was freaking out.''

In Russia, too. After training for the Sochi Games' second Alpine men's event, Friday's super-combined, Mayer was stopped by course workers and volunteers who wanted him to pose for photos. He obliged.

It's been a bit of a whirlwind since his surprising win. Mayer's days have been filled, he said, with ''a lot of media stuff,'' plus a celebratory party where he got to chat with Franz Klammer, who gave Austria a gold in the downhill at the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics.

He says the best part of being a gold medalist - remember, this is a guy who'd never won in 65 previous World Cup or world championship races, nor finished better than fifth in a downhill - is the ''cool feeling'' he gets in the start gate now, knowing that he already is a champion.

And even if he's had plenty of distractions lately, preventing him from his usual training regimen, it's been worth it.

''We had a lot of fun. Of course, it was a little bit exhausting for me,'' he said, chuckling. ''But I feel good now and I'm ready for races.''

- By Howard Fendrich - Twitter http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu

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