Fenninger makes December 28 her magic day with victory in Lienz

Anna Fenninger on her way to winning in Lienz, Picture COPYRIGHT ZOOM AGENCE

Anna Fenninger produced a stunning second run to put the pressure on the last remaining racer in the start gate – the leading lady in the Giant Slalom World Cup this season so far, Jessica Lindell-Vikarby. With just four hundredths … separating the top three racers after the first run, there was little to choose between Lindell-Vikarny leading from Fenninger and Kathrin Zettel in third, two hundredths between each racer. In the end it was Zettel how cracked as Michaela Shiffrin stole in to take third place, a mere one hundredth behind the Swedish racer! Zettel had to settle for fourth.

While ten Austrians took to the start in what was a ‘home’ race for them, it was the Italians that stole the show and at one point on the second run, the Italians had the top four places with Denise Karbon showing her younger colleagues the way to do it. Karbon had to settle for tenth but she managed to put herself in the selection window with racers running out of time to make selection for the Olympics getting ever closer. The Italians eventually had six in the top thirteen racers in the finish with Francesca Marsaglia coming from start number 50 to place 12th.

The race organisers had worked hard to make sure that the hill was in race worthy condition. warm weather in the days leading up to the race had tested their skills and then fresh snow falling tested them even further. The result was that the course was hard and solid and while it may not have been to all the racers liking, this is the World Cup and courses are there to test the skills of the athletes. Fenninger declared after the race that she was surprised as to just how good the course was.

With Lara Gut crashing out on the first run, this opened up matters in the race for the Overall. Tina Weirather, winner in Val d’Isere, could not replicate the form she had shown last time out and struggled home in 17th place, two places in front was Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Tina Maze a place infront of the German.

Mikaela Shiffrin podiumed in the second race of the GS season and her second run was determined and smooth. “I’m normally pretty comfortable within half a second on a first run,” said Shiffrin. “It’s always better to come down and feel like you separated yourself from everybody, but I’m not quite there in GS. As long as I am in this position where I can really attack I’m psyched with that.” Shiffrin went into the lead and then had to see how the three leaders from the first run would get on. Shiffrin had a deficit of three tenths of a second to make up.

Zettel did not rise to the challenge and whether it was a case of trying too hard, only she will know. She slotted into that horrible position of being in second with two racers to go.

Fenninger was next to go. The Austrian had won on December 28 for the last two years, once in Lienz and then last year in Semmering. While the second run was not the cleanest run, she fought for everything and was rewarded with the lead, just over half a second infront of the American.

Ski racing is a pressure sport and while Lindell-Vikarby is rising to the challenge and has carved out a huge lead in the race for the season long Globe, she could almost be excused for skiing for points. A few small mistakes saw her lose time to the Austrian and at the bottom she had scored herself second place by the slimmest margin of just one hunderdth. This is what makes ski racing such a great sport to watch.

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