Elena Fanchini wins the downhill and Cortina is clothed in blue

It was billed as the day Lindsey Vonn would equal the record yet it ended as the day that Elena Fanchini won her second World Cup race, over nine years after she won her first. A lowered start, fog and some racers not risking their all resulted in the Italian taking the spoils. Three years after Daniela Merighetti last won an Italian is back to success in a competition of the Women’s World Cup on the Tofane Olympic track – On the podium were also the Canadian Yurkiw and Rebensburg from Germany – It had to be the great day of Lindsey Vonn and Tina Maze, instead the American was only tenth and the Slovenian even thirteenth. …

At noon, the national anthem of Italy filled the valley and brought joy to the Ampezzo valley while the bells of the church of Saint Filippo and Saint Giacomo ring to celebrate. Elena Fanchini won the downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo, three years after Dada Merighetti. It was January 14, 2012 and since then no blue-girl was able to get on the top step of the podium in a women’s race of the World Cup. 

But visibility was still very low at the top of the track, so the FIS jury correctly decided that the start of the race was to be lowered from the 2320 meters of Punta Anna to the 2100  meters of the Duca d’Aosta hut. Even further lower of the start of  Super-G scheduled for Sunday, excluding the Schuss of Pomedes (the steepest part of the track, but not the more selective of the Olympia delle Tofane track, where downhill races are won or lost in the Grand Curvone or after the diagonal or the Pale of Rumerlo).

By Grand Curvone to the Pale of Rumerlo, but also in the lower part, Elena Fanchini was superb. Almost perfect. And, of course, the fastest of all. Her skis where almost always flat. Bright, alert, confident, precise. Yes, even lucky, because after this race, her bib was number 14, probably the visibility was a bit worse for the others. Although Vonn with 16 and Fenninger with 17 got out not long after. However good, indeed, very good. In fact, yesterday, in the training of the descent she was fourth, after Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso and Tina Maze. And, by her own admission, she had racked up a number of small errors in line along the entire path. Good sign, we wrote, without adding anything and keeping fingers crossed.

Only Larisa Yurkiw was smarter than the eldest  Fanchini sister in the last twenty seconds of the race, but then not much: just nine hundrendths, not enough to precede Elena at the Rumerlo finish. The twenty-six years old Canadian from Ontario closed her extraordinary descent with the second fastest time and a gap of just four meters in a race of almost two kilometers. That of the first career podium of Yurkiw is a good story to tell, considering that a year ago, in fact, the Canadian federation decided not to invest further in the speed races and smashed the women’s downhill team. But the girl, of Ukrainian origin, that right on the Olympic track Tofane last January had injured her knee, did not give up and has run alone, finding sponsors to play the World Cup races in Europe with the Austrian coach Kurt Mayr. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars invested well, you might say. Starting from today, and may be hoping that her federation will now repent and change mind before the next World Championships in Vail.

Tenth Vonn and thirteenth Maze. But tomorrow is another day and we’ll see. “I hope a lot better than today,” grumbled the beautiful Slovenian, with morale in the heels. Almost unapproachable. The fault of her sensational results, the worst of the season in a speed race, was given to the fog and not for truly to the track “it was beautiful as always.” The American from Vail has instead refused to take risks. Understandable, after two operations on his right knee that in practice kept her away from racing for almost a season and half. “I went to the starting gate already convinced that I could not win today. And in fact, from the top to the end I have accumulated an error of line after another”, she just said taking the escape route from the beautiful scene of the race, where snow and rain permitting, it will be a day of revenge, still in downhill, for the two leading ladies of this fascinating World Cup. Sadly the overnight snow meant that the second race of the weekend has had to be postponed until Monday.


Picture – Elena Fanchini – Credit Zoom Agence – all rights reserved