Swiss Daniel Albrecht crashed into the nets and was airlifted to the medical station, with an update on his condition yet to arrive.
Despite the better conditions the pace was almost a second slower than on Wednesday, when Max Franz and Klaus Kroell led an Austrian one-two in soft snow.
Svindal's time of a minute 51.43 seconds was 0.13s faster than Georg Streitberger with Kroell (+0.38) and Joachim Puchner (+0.49) following.
There were five inches of overnight snow but cold temperatures hardened the base, preserving the course.
Franz was almost a second and a half slower than his Wednesday time, finishing down in ninth.
"Today it was a completely different story on the slope, the snow is more compact and it was fun to ski," said Puchner.
"I must admit that I was a little surprised with the times at first – but it actually makes sense if you think of it, the new snow is the 'squeaky' one and it’s slower."
Svindal, the reigning super-G champion, won the downhill at Lake Louise last year. There will be one more training run on Friday before the World Cup downhill on Saturday and super-G on Sunday.
Top 10 times
1. SVINDAL Aksel Lund NOR 1:51.43
2. STREITBERGER Georg AUT 1:51.56
3. KROELL Klaus AUT 1:51.81
4. PUCHNER Joachim AUT 1:51.92
5. DEFAGO Didier SUI 1:51.94
6. GUAY Erik CAN 1:52.01
6. JANSRUD Kjetil NOR 1:52.01
8. THEAUX Adrien FRA 1:52.03
9. FRANZ Max AUT 1:52.13
10. CLAREY Johan FRA 1:52.24
- Sports & Recreation
- Georg Streitberger
- Max Franz