Maria Riesch has laid down the marker for the rest of the field with this impressive win in the Canadian Rockies. Four years after scoring her maiden World Cup downhill win on the same slope, Riesch destroyed the rest of the field to win the fifth World Cup downhill race of her career. The course may have been icy but the determination showed by Riesch was steely. It was Lindsey Vonn that the pundits were all favouring before the race but it was Riesch that stood on the top step of the podium after the race: "It is a big challenge to beat Lindsey in Lake Louise," Riesch said. "She has more World Cup wins than me so beating her on any downhill no matter where is special," explained Riesch after the race. With Vonn taking second and Lizz Goergl third, this was a race for HEAD Speedoholics! Anna Fenninger and Anja Paerson further emphasised the domination of the HEAD skis with fifth and sixth overall.
The early pace had been set by the young Austrian Fenninger from bib number 6. Fenninger, whose career pervious best in Downhill had also been set in Lake Louise, posted a time that had the better of many more illustrious racers. It was Lindsey Vonn who wrestled the lead off Fenninger with a devastating run. Starting with her favourite number, 16, Vonn made the most of the TV break that allowed the course to be cleaned up and at each split time she was ahead of the Austrian. By the time she crossed the finish line, the gap was over a second. Vonn was looking imperious.
There is an old saying that a race is not over until the last racer is down and while it only took two racers before her time was beaten, Vonn does not like to be beaten – this is why she is the winner that she is. “It is hard to lose a race by such a small margin," Vonn said. "I skied well, just a few hundreds of a second and I would be on the top step of the podium."
Apart from the first split Riesch was ahead of Vonn the whole way down. Following the high speed crash of Chemmy Alcott on Thursday, a few changes had been made to the course. "I was surprised by some sections it was little bit faster and the jump they made it less high but they made it worse," Riesch said. "I was really high and really far off it. I think it also was because I was going really fast."
Two runners after Riesch came down the course, Austrian Lizz Goergl joined Riesch and Vonn on the Speedoholic podium, just over two tenths behind the German. With Fenninger and Paerson in fifth and sixth, this was a great day for the Speedoholics. Riesch has now extended her lead in the Overall but the last time Riesch beat Vonn in the Downhill in Lake Louise (2006), Vonn went on to win the next five races in Lake Louise. Vonn has a chance to start that feat again with the next Downhill and Super G scheduled for the weekend.
In Beaver Creak, USA, the HEAD Speedoholic Men were beaten by the weather after having won two of the three training runs. High winds causing the race to be cancelled. Didier Cuche and Hans Grugger won the first and third training runs.
HEAD racers from the Women’s Downhill in Lake Louise, Canada
1. Maria Riesch (GER) HEAD
2. Lindsey Vonn (USA) HEAD
3. Lizz Goergl (AUT) HEAD
5. Anna Fenninger (AUT) HEAD
6. Anja Paerson (SWE) HEAD
14. Marianne Abderholden (SUI) HEAD
27. Chelsea Marshall (USA) HEAD