Lara Gut put the downhill results out of her mind and got back to winning ways with victory in the final race of the North American leg of the World Cup, beating her training partner and friend Tina Weirather into second with Anna Fenninger taking … third place. The result could so easily have had a Maria Hoefl-Riesch hat trick but the German made a mistake approaching the last flat section above the finish and scrubbed off her speed and would eventually drop to 19th on the finish list.
The race started off in bright sunshine yet still bitterly cold and for the third day running, the racers were all taped up to try and keep the wind chill factor to a minimum as they sped down the hill. Â Lizz Goergl had the dubious honour of being bib number 1 and after having been disqualified in the last Super G, from a podium place, she was keen to make amends for things. Goelrgl admitted afterwards that she had used the same skis for this race, yet one suspects that the ski had been tested again prior to her using the ski. 0.01 of a millimetre is a fine margin but as they say, rules are rules. This time Goergl used the clean track to her advantage and attacked.Â Goergl felt “It was not so easy to start with number one, but I mastered it quite well. I attacked the course hard.â€
It was hard to tell if Goergl’s run was quick but none of the next seven runners could get close to her and it looked like her determination may have been rewarded with a strong result. The 2011 Super G World Champion from Garmisch had a dreadful season last year but is now showing the form that took her to the win in 2011.
Tina Weirather is fast becoming one of the stars of the World Cup this year. Despite being disqualified for wearing forearm guards in the first downhill, Weirather, daughter of the Austrian legend Harti Weirather, knows how to ski fast and battered the time of Goergl by three quarters of a second. Already the need to take the gate around coaches corner and the section to the bottom were becoming vital for a fast time.
As the race went into the top seeds, the excitement was growing. Vonn was going at 18 and with each race this week, she has improved. First up though was the woman that tore all the record books up last year, Tina Maze. Maze said in Soelden at the beginning of the season that she is feeling the pressure of everyone watching her and it seems that last year took a lot out of her as she has not been able to replicate her form yet. Although this was another steady run, the Slovenian racer just does not have that edge that took her to 2400 plus points last season. Maze came down into sixth spot but this would not be where she ended up.
An improved Julia Mancuso, still not at her best, could only manage to come down into eighth but things are getting better for the runner up in the Super G standings from last season.
For the last two years, Lindsey Vonn has won all the racers in Lake Louise. This year she skied, rather than raced, to fortieth in the first Downhill as found her feet after being out for ten months, then in the second Downhill she placed 11th as she attacked a little more. In the Super G, she wracked up the tension again and came down into third place. The signs for Sochi are positive. After the race she said:Â “I am very proud and happy, every day it has gone a little better. Today I had more self-confidence, but made â€‹â€‹too many mistakes. I have to ski a bit cleaner, then I can win again. But it is a great result and a successful weekend, I have made a good step every day,” said theÂ 29 -Â year-old.
After two wins in two days, Maria Hoefl-Riesch was after making it a hat trick. She had said after the Downhills that Super G was not her strongest event but the way she carved her line, spent time in the tuck and made an awesome job of 80% of the course, you can bet there was a lot of determination taking her down the course. Hoefl-Riesch looked to be on the way to setting the remaining three top seeds a competitive time for them to stop her from taking the clean sweep. Five gates from home, on a relatively flat section of the course, the German made a mess of things and scrubbed off a vast chunk of speed and she limped home. The chance of three wins had gone.
While Victoria Rebensburg is an outstanding racer in both Super G and Giant Slalom, she is not quite of the same calibre as some of the other top Super G racers yet. Rebensburg is a safe top ten racer.
Weirather and Anna Fenninger are of the same mould: Both are strong and small compact pocket rockets. Both know how to go fast and use their technique and strength to the best of their ability. Fenninger did everything that she could to post a faster time but the whole way down she was just that little bit slower than Weirather and after her run she explained that she knows what she now has to do to get in front of the girl from Liechtenstein. “I know now what I’m doing wrong in theÂ Super-Â G and what I have to do. Today was not a perfect run, but I’m up there. That’s a good feeling.â€
And then came number 22… Lara Gut. Banished were the two disappointing runs from the downhill and back into race winning mode as she was fastest at all the splits to win her fourth World Cup race of the season – and it is not even Christmas. With victory Gut has reclaimed her lead in the Overall as well!
Next stop St Moritz…