In a day of high drama and what if’s, there could be no denying the strength of the self belief that Maria Riesch showed in winning her second downhill of the season ahead of her HEAD and Speedoholic team mate, Lindsey Vonn. After the clean sweep of the podium in Friday’s race, Lizz Goergl almost made it on to the podium again but a mistake near the bottom saw her have to settle for fifth overall.
No two days of racing are the same and the sun baked course made the course icy in the -8 degree temperature, affecting many of the racers, an unnecessarily high proportion crashing out. For Maria Riesch the experience gained over the last few years in Lake Louise was put to good use: "The last couple of the years I have been fighting a little bit with the consequences of my injuries. I have had at least two wins in downhill so I am on the right way," she explained. With two wins in as many days, Riesch now has the opportunity to take the clean sweep, something no German has done since Katja Seizinger did it in 1997. "We all skied to the limit and it was down to the one making the fewer mistakes," said Riesch, now a comfortable leader in the World Cup standings, 189 points ahead of Vonn.
Riesch was able to make up time on Vonn by skiing flawlessly through the Fall Away section of the course where Vonn almost crashed. "Fall Away is a thing of luck," Riesch said. "Yesterday I hit some bumps there. Which track you take through there is important."
For Vonn a near crash with a phenomenal recovery proved the strength training in the summer was worthwhile. "Considering my near crash I did good," Vonn explained. "I had more speed today coming into Fall Away. I hit one of those bumps and lost my grip and went down on my hip. It definitely cost me a lot of time." On a critical left turn midway down the course Vonn's skis released from the snow sending her sailing through the air sideways. The three-time World Cup downhill champion then landed hard on her left hip, immediately bounced up, regained her tuck and continued to charge missing the win by a mere .10 seconds.
"I realized I was on my hip and thought I was going into the fence and I just kept thinking 'get back up, get back up, get back up,'" said Vonn, who attributed the save to her rigorous off season conditioning program. "Somehow I caught my edge and was able to stand back up. Once I was on my feet again I just kept thinking 'make up time.’” It looked like it would be good enough but then Maria Riesch had not read the script as she edged out the American by a tenth of a second.
Two races down, one to go in Lake Louise and 5 podium places taken by the HEAD Speedoholics!
1. Maria Riesch (GER) HEAD
2. Lindsey VONN (USA) HEAD
3. Dominique Gisin (SUI)
5. Lizz Goergl (AUT) HEAD
9= Anna Fenninger (AUT) HEAD
14. Chelsea Marshall (USA) HEAD
17. Anja Paerson (SWE) HEAD
24. Marianne Abderhalden (SUI) HEAD