The excitement and anticipation was there. Seven months after putting the last season to bed, this was the start of the Olympic season. Anna Fenninger got the show on the road and while it was not her best run, she negotiated the steep pitch that was at its darkest comfortably. Viktoria Rebensburg followed her down … and posted a time just six hundredths better and then Little Miss Swiss Lara Gut blasted the fastest time of the first run down! 79 hundredths faster than Rebensburg and 83 faster than Fenninger. We had a race on our hands!
Kathrin Zettel was not able to better the time of Gut but is in the mix just behind Fenninger. Then came the surprise of the run: Tina Maze, the girl who dominated GS and the Women’s World Cup last season was more than two seconds off the blistering pace of Gut. When the sun is out for the second run, Maze will have a slightly better course than the leaders but a two second plus deficit will be hard to make up.
Mikaela Shiffrin blasted her way into fifth place from a start of 15, just ahead of Maze. This time last year she missed the flip by one hundredth! the story since then has been nothing short of remarkable: 4 World Cup slalom wins, a World Championship, a World Cup and still she is only 18 – one of five 1995 year of births in the race, one of only two to make the flip.
Tina Weirather stormed into the top ten from bib 37 to go joint 7th with Jessica Lindell-Vikarby Â and Maria Pietilae-Holmner made it two Swedes in the top ten after the first run.
Eight racers from outside the top thirty starters made the flip yet the luckiest girl in the second run is Julia Mancuso who already had her comfort boots on and was resigned to placing 31 when news filtered through that Emi Hasegawi from Japan had been dq’ed and she was back in. Back in 2010 her good friend Chemmy Alcott experienced a similar feeling of being ready to head off the hill and we all remember what happened then: Chemmy went on to win the run (joint with race winner Kathrin Zettel) and place 10th in the race! Can the same happen?
One run down, one run to go. The season has started!