A tough training day for the women at Whistler

February 16th, 2010

After a long wait, the best female speed skiers of the world finally managed to check the technically demanding Franz downhill course at Whistler Creek. They tested the run before and after the spectacular men’s downhill race – trying first the longer upper part and then the bottom.

USA’s Lindsey Vonn clocked the best time in the morning part while Sweden’s Anja Pärson was the fastest in the afternoon. Pärson missed a gate in the morning leg. Maria Riesch unfortunately seemed to have a hard time finding her best rhythm. Most of the favorites complained about the tough conditions and the rutty course that requested great condition and much engagement too.

"It's tough," Vonn said afterwards. "I honestly was expecting it to be a little bit better than it was. Yesterday I trained slalom and it felt OK. But the course here is pretty bumpy – I was pretty shocked. It was like jarring – it was a fight to make it down."

The two-time World Champion, who injured her right shin in a crash two weeks ago while training in Austria, continued to test her bruised leg after reporting progress in training Sunday.

"I was just barely in my tuck any part of the course," she also told the press. "I think this is the worst course for my shin. I just have to fight through it, do some therapy now, and hopefully Mother Nature will give me another day off tomorrow. I just have to be able to grit my teeth and fight through it on Wednesday and hopefully still come out on top."

The skiers finished just above the Hot Air finish jump in the morning session and skied the bottom section from the combined slalom start in the afternoon, when Vonn was 20th in the second leg.

Vonn may refrain from training Tuesday. She said she was taken aback that her first run time was so fast. "I was honestly surprised," Vonn said. "I almost went out of the course a couple times. It wasn't bad skiing, it was just fighting to make it down skiing. It's not a feel-good course, it's not a fun course, it's a stick-your-nose-in-it-and-make-it-down course. If you're skiing aggressive and not sliding, you'll be fast."

Another eventually last training run is planned for Tuesday morning between the two legs of the men Super-combined event but weather forecast is not too optimistic with more snow showers on the course during late night.

"I hope the course conditions will soon be better, it’s pretty impossible to ski it properly for the moment as it is," said a little frustrated Anja Pärson who was 5th in the morning prior being taken off the standings because of the mistake. "You are badly shaken on your way down, it’s impossible to get a good feeling for the line,” the multiple gold medal winner also explained.