What the rest of the field could not do, the weather tried its hardest to do and that was beat Lindsey Vonn on the Lake Louise Downhill course. In the end the American made a huge mistake half way down the course and this gave the rest of the field a chance. With roughly half the course still go, Vonn however, was able to eke out enough speed to overall her compatriot Stacey Cook to take her second win in as many days and make it six wins on the bounce for her in Lake Louise. Switzerland’s Mariane Kaufman-Abderhalden took third.
Lindsey Vonn is a supreme athlete, there is no denying this. She is good looking and yet has a steely determination to be the best. It is this determination that sees her through moments of trouble when she is on the course. Talking about the moment that nearly derailed the winning streak at Lake Louise, Vonn saidÂ â€œI had a lot of speed, hit some bumps, and was going into the net and somehow pulled it off and definitely still carried some speed onto the flats and make up all the time I lost. It was definitely a bumpy ride today but thankfully I was still able to ski well and still somehow win.”
This win now ranks her equal with Vreni Schneider on the all time winning list for women with 55 wins; Anna-Marie Moser-Proell sits out in front with 62 wins. Vonn likes to go fast and with speeds as fast as 135kmh (just over 80mph), this is not for the feint hearted.
after having waited so long for a podium and then getting one the day before, Stacey Cook repeated her feat in this race. After the race she said:Â “I hope this is the tip of the iceberg for me. There was a second there that I actually thought I might win this thing, but Lindsey is amazing. When she made that mistake my heart actually stopped for a second. Sheâ€™s amazing, sheâ€™s the only athlete that could stop on course and then still win.”
WithÂ Mariane Kaufman-Abderhalden taking her first podium since 2010 in Crans Montana, she said thatÂ â€œMy run was very good. The last part of my run I think was very fast.â€
The race was not without trouble though as Maria Hoefl-Riesch left the start and immediately after she had started the race was briefly halted for the weather to clear. Hoefl-Riesch is not one to bemoan her luck and although she managed to fight her way into sixth place, she felt that is was her poor skiing that was to blame and not the weather for her not getting on the podium.
The weather did play a significant role in the race and later runners had little chance of repeating their heroics from the day before. Steffi Moser started two in the first Downhill and 25 in the second race. The weather had deteriorated by the time she started in the second race and although she fought as hard as she could, she was only able to place 24th. She still scored valuable World Cup points and ahead of her compatriot and the World Champion Lizzi Goergl who had a day she would rather forget in finishing 29th.
Early starts had the advantage and when the fans favourite from the first day, Chemmy Alcott left the start, conditions were definitely not great. This though is what ski racing is all about and you have to take the rough with the smooth. Commenting on her race afterwards on her Facebook profile, Alcott wrote “Tough conditions today for us at the back with the slow snow falling but am happy with the jump up I made to 31st. Shame just outside the points but feeling more and more confident every run.” Alcott failed to make it two point scoring races in a row by the small margin of 11 hundredths as she finished in the agonising position of joint 31st.
These are still confidence boosting results and something that Chemmy is justifiably proud of and would have taken if she had been offered them six months ago. At the beginning of the season Alcott commented that she was not going to race in Soelden so that she was in her best shape for the World Championships. If her form continues on the upward trajectory that she is now on, Schladming in February will be eagerly anticipated.
The Vonn show continues and while it was not the masterclass she gave in Downhill race one, this was a lesson in never giving up. The rest of the field will have to have another closer chat with the weather Gods if they are to avoid another defeat at the hands of Vonn in the Super G.