The opening ceremony has not happened yet and already the first training runs for the Olympic Downhill events have happened. Anna Fenninger and Bode Miller posted the fastest training times, yet controversy seems to be going hand in hand … with the Sochi Games already. Journalists seem to be very quick to post all the bad things about accommodation but most of the athletes and skiing press are full of praise for the on snow facilities. The training prior to the Games has been done and now the serious work is happening. The big Game players know what is expected and while there were test events here two seasons ago, there have been alterations.
The first training run is the first real opportunity for the racers to experience that course that will decide who becomes the 2014 Olympic Downhill Champions. For the women, after three racers had completed their runs, a jump near the bottom was adjusted with the top being shaved off slightly. The three racers were all offered a re-run to acclimatise themselves to the new take off, only American Lauren Ross accepted the offer.
Daniela Merigheti, an outside chance, had started three and flew over 45 metres, injuring her knee on landing. Tina Weirather, who finished fourth in the training run:Â â€œI think itâ€™s a little bit dangerous for (the) ones who had to go like Daniela Merighettiâ€¦ who flew 45 meters and hurt her knee. Thatâ€™s not very good, obviously. I think it could have been done better,â€ remarked Weirather.
There is not a lot to read into the first training run as it is very much an opportunity to learn the course. Unlike the World Cup where the racers see the course virtually the same year on year, the fact that the course is relatively new to the field, means that while Fenninger won, Fraenzi Aufdenblatten was second and Julia Mancuso took third, many others like Tina Weirather (4th), Maria Hoefl-Riesch (6th and winner of the test event two years ago) and 8th placed Lara Gut will all be looking to improve their lines for the next run.
Mancuso commented after the run: “The snowâ€™s excellent, and I mean thereâ€™s definitely a couple bumps on the course which makes it difficult and the two pitches are tough but in general it definitely ran how I expected it to. Iâ€™m looking forward to getting another couple chances. Thereâ€™s not a lot of warm-up here, so you never really know until you hit the course. But I was happy with how I skied today. I definitely have room to clean up some sections, but so far I think itâ€™s on the right track.â€‹”
Sadly with the Freestyle grabbing the attention of the BOA media team, we can only report that Chammy Alcott finished in 36th spot.
Full results from Women’s training one
Bode Miller was the fastest in the Men’s training run and after the run he commented about the course: “It’s a challenging hill. There’s no question, they didn’t take a lot of the teeth away from it from a couple of years ago. It was probably that year our most challenging downhill. I would say this year it’s equal. It’s high speed, really big turns, challenging terrain, really big swinging turns into big jumps, and a lot of different challenging sections, things that challenge a much more technical skier, things that challenge a better glider.”
The reports from the racers are positive. Interestingly the course could have been extended to be longer than Wengen!
Miller won the first training run by three hundredths of a second from Patrick Kueng, winner of Wengen, with Matthias Mayer in third.
Full results from Men’s training one