There seems to be an air about the Women’s World Cup this year with continuity: Lara Gut won three races on the spin and now Maria Hoefl-Riesch has won her second downhill in two days in Lake Louise. It may not, in her mind, … have been as clean and smooth as the first race win but a win is decided on time and not style. This time the German beat Tina Weirather who was in inspired form after her innocuous disqualification the day before with Anna Fenninger taking her first downhill podium of the season. There was also an improved Lindsey Vonn challenging the top ten as she came in eleventh. The snow cannons did not cause the mayhem of the day before but the weather was still bitterly cold! Marianne Kaufmann- Abderhalden and Elena Fanchini rounded out the top five finishers.
With this being the second Downhill in Lake Louise, there was no difference to the course: The cold weather was still here but the snow cannons had been switched off and this meant the conditions were great, it was slightly warmer than the previous day but still cold.
Nadia Fanchini got the race under way but her time was soon beaten by Johanna Schnarf and then Dominique Gisin bettered her time by seven tenths of a second. We had a race on our hands. It was not long before Elena Fanchini bettered the Swiss racers time by two tenths.
After a number of crashes the race moved into the top seeds: Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden had taken second the day before from a start number of 30 and this had given her a better start number, 15. Her top section looked great and then she made a mistake that cost her dearly. Despite using all her excellent gliding skills, the swiss racer could only manage to better the Italian racers time by 0.01 seconds. still it was the lead. The Swiss racer had turned a deficit of 0.70 seconds into a lead of 0.01!
No sooner had she got her jacket on in the leaders enclosure and Tina Weirather was down, without forearm guards on, and had taken the lead by just under half a second. Maze could not recreate the form of last year, though it was showing positives and while Lindsey Vonn had the green light at the first split, her rustiness crept in as she came down the course. Vonn has said that this season is all about Sochi for her. Stacey Cook, like most of the American Team is having a wretched time and could not get closer than seventh amongst those that had finished.
Maria Hoefl-Riesch then took to the course. Had she taken too much out of the system in winning the day before, could she do it again? The answer was an emphatic yes as she crossed the line. The line through Fallaway may not have been as clean as the day before and after the race she said “The slope was faster today but my run wasn’t as clean as yesterday. I lost a little bit of time in the middle section, but my performance today still good enough for the win, so I am really satisfied.”
Next up was Anna Fenninger and while there is a considerable height difference between the two, Fenninger used all her race craft to spend most of her run just a tenth of a second behind the German. The superior gliding skills into the finish saw Hoefl-Riesch take a lead and Fenninger was happy to take third behind Weirather.
Lara Gut was unable to recreate her incredible form from Beaver Creek and dropped down the leaderboard also relinquishing her lead in the Downhill and Overall.
Yet again a number of the later racers managed to belie their late start numbers and make it to the top end of the results: Kajsa Kling came down from 54 to make 8th; Marine Gauthier took 18th from 53, Ramona Siebenhofer came down from 49 to take 24th. Larisa Yurkiw gave hope to all speed racers that have been dumped by their National Federations when programmes are cut by securing her third World Cup points finish this season with 26th, last season she only scored one World Cup points result all season!