Lizz Goergl produced one of the most satisfying runs of her career to win the World Cup Downhill in Altenmarkt Zauchensee. Anna Fenninger looked to have won the race with Maria Hoefl-Reisch just seven hundredths behind her but it was Goergl, from a start number of 28, who came down to steal the show. …Â
Goergl has a had a pretty rough couple of seasons she admitted. Since winning the World Championship in Garmisch in 2011, the popular Austrian has had a poor run of form and loss of confidence. Yet she took a step back, re-evaluated things and while her start number dropped out of the top seeds, she never lost faith in herself. Yet it very nearly did not happen for her in Altenmarkt. Goergl lives not far from Altenmarkt and spent the night at home. On the drive in her car ran out of petrol a kilometre from the Zauchensee base. Goergl only just made it to the course in time to inspect and it was all a little rushed from then on.
Her run was anything but rushed: It was fast, polished and from the third split on she was never headed. The old saying, “A race is never over until the last racer,” was very apt and how Anna Fenninger must have hoped that the finish had been that little higher. Fenninger was in the finish starting to think that she had the first World Cup Downhill win of her career when number 28, Goergl, dislodged her. This was the first win for Goergl since Bad Kleinkirchheim in 2012 and only her second Downhill win in the World Cup.
With Goergl winning, Fenninger taking second and Maria Hoefl-Riesch taking her first podium in Altenmarkt, Tina Weirather took fourth and with this dropped down to third in the Overall standings. Tina Maze, who dominated the World Cup last year changed her coaching set up just after New Year was a rather distant 12th and afterwards the smile from last year was still not back.
With her second place, Fenninger moves into the lead of the Overall just ahead of Hoefl-Riesch with Weirather third and early season leader Lara Gut back in fourth.
With the race to Sochi hotting up, many racers are now eagerly looking at results to book their tickets for Sochi: Niki Hosp, who started out as a technical specialist, produced her second best career downhill result to place fifth, her best downhill result for eight years, Â while Larisa Yurkiw from Canada, booked her ticket with sixth place, a career best result. Yurkiw trains alongside Chemmy Alcott with the Norwegian Girls team after the Canadian team disbanded their speed team last season.
With no Lindsey Vonn going to Sochi, the race for the Downhill Gold is looking very open and exciting. Julia Mancuso put the emotional turmoil of her sister compressing two of her vertabrae the day before behind her to be within a second of the leaders: “This gives me the confidence to believe that I can win again,” she explained.
With three Austrians in the top five and four in the top ten, selection for the Austrian team is going to be tough: With two more Downhills before the Olympics, every race is now super important on more than a World Cup basis.