LAKE LOUISE, CANADA – The second of two downhill races at Lake Louise for the ladies produced a unique challenge for athletes and race organizers as a substation fire led to a power outage at the resort. With no ability to run the lifts, all racers and personnel were transported to a lowered race start at men’s super-G start using piste machines and tow ropes. Despite the unconventional method of uphill transportation, racers and fans alike were thrilled to hold the race under mostly clear conditions when it could have easily been lost to the misfortune of the day.
Technical phenom Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. showed that her downhill podium finish on Friday was no fluke, and she claimed the first speed victory of her career after narrowly avoiding the fence through Fish Net. Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, who won the first two GS races of the season, finished solidly in second place at just 0.13 seconds from the lead. Michelle Gisin of Switzerland claimed only the second podium of her career (and first ever in downhill) by finishing third at 0.17 seconds from the win from bib 27.
Late-runner Kira Weidle of Germany also wowed the crowd by cruising into eighth place from bib 43. In all, seven athletes in the top 12 started from 20th position or later.
Power was restored to the lifts by the end of the race and will be fully operational for Sunday’s super-G.
4th downhill win at Beaver Creek for Aksel Lund Svindal
Birds of Prey downhill 2017 is in the books and Aksel Lund Svindal from Norway won it for the 4th time. In second place, Switzerland’s Kugelblitz Beat Feuz, who won the downhill opener in Lake Louise last week, takes second place. The impressive young German Thomas Dressen claims his maiden World Cup podium at Beaver Creek.
Charging the course from bib n°1, Aksel Lund Svindal found the best line right away and set a time of 1:40:46. It turned out that no one after him was able to untermatch that time and Svindal could stay on the Audi leader chair all the way to the end of the race, claiming his fourth downhill victory in Beaver Creek and his 33th World Cup win through all disciplines.
Shortly after him, with start number 3, the Lake Louise downhill winner Beat Feuz came close, finishing only +0.15 off Svindal’s pace. The downhill World Champion from Switzerland finishes second for the third time in the Birds Of Prey downhill, always defeated by a quite small margin.
In third place, Germany’s Thomas Dressen created the surprise of the day, by earning his first career World Cup podium. The last German downhill podium goes back to 2004 with a win in Val Gardena. The 23 years young athlete from Mittenwald made a big step in the speed disciplines coming into that season.
Tomorrow, a third and last race will be staged in Beaver Creek, with a giant slalom starting at 9h45 LOC – 17h45 CET / 12h45 LOC – 20h00 CET.
Huetter on top in first race back from injury
Conny Huetter wasted no time on her comeback following nearly a year away from the World Cup circuit due to a knee injury sustained last December. In the Austrian’s first race back since the training crash last winter, she claimed a tight victory in the opening downhill of the season at Lake Louise. Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather, who posted solid training times all week, was just 0.09 seconds shy of the win in second place. Technical phenom turned downhill threat Mikaela Shiffrin secured the first speed podium finish of her career in third.
Huetter was emotional after the race and could barely believe that she had won the first downhill race of her career in her very first race back on the tour. Although she was overjoyed to see the green light in the finish, she wasn’t sure if it would hold up against the rest of the field after she started with bib 15.
Snowfall intensified over the race as more challengers tried to shake the podium, but the top three were ultimately decided with Huetter’s run. Lindsey Vonn appeared on track to at least hit the podium when she caught an edge in Claire’s Corner and careened into the safety fences. She was able to ski down to the finish area and reportedly suffered no serious injuries.
For Weirather, the day marked the fifth time out of her last seven podium finishes that she wound up in second place. After a small mistake on the lower section of the course, she was determined to take another crack at the hill on Saturday.
Shiffrin surprised herself a bit by skiing a clean run onto her career-first speed podium. But she acknowledged that the training runs enabled her to figure out her timing on the track and she could focus on having fun once race day arrived. All three ladies and the rest of the field return to Lake Louise tomorrow for another downhill race ahead of Sunday’s super-G.
Maiden win for Vincent Kriechmayr
The men’s World Cup Tour went on with speed races in Beaver Creek, with not less than a super-g on the Birds of Prey as a starter. Vincent Kriechmayr form Austria claimed his first ever World Cup win, while Kjetil Jansrud and Hannes Reichelt complete the podium.
In 2015/16, the Carinthian laid down his best performances so far, reaching the podium three times: the first one came in Kvitfjell, a second place in the super-g, then he podiumed at the Olympic test events in Jeongseon 2016 (3rd place) and again in Kvitfjell 2016 (2nd). In that 2015/16 season, Kriechmayr actually had a shot at the discipline globe, before finally ending 4th of the season ranking. Last season, the 26 year old didn’t perform quite as good, but it seems that he is coming back in a fantastic shape and will be a serious contender in that discipline.
Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, who won the first super-g of the season in Lake Louise last week, was again able to earn a podium placement, finishing second, +0,23 behind Kriechmayr. Last season’s globe winner keeps up the constant performances in this early season and is a serious contender for tomorrow’s downhill as well.
The third place goes to Hannes Reichelt, +0.33 off the pace of his teammate Kriechmayr. Three of his six World Cup career wins in super-g came in Beaver Creek and the Austrian also became a World Champion on this course at the Vail Beaver Creek 2015 World Championships.
Tomorrow, the race program at the Beaver Creek World Cup goes on with the traditional Birds of Prey downhill, starting at 11.00 LOC / 19.00 CET. A giant slalom will conclude the racing week-end on Sunday.