Before the athletes even arrived in town, organizers in Italy cancelled Thursday’s downhill training session for this weekend’s women’s World Cup race in Cortina d’Ampezzo due to forecasts of heavy snow.
World Cup rules require at least one official training session to be held before a downhill race. The weather is expected to improve on Friday, when another training session is scheduled.
Lindsey Vonn, who finished fourth in her return to racing last weekend in St. Anton, will aim for her first victory in more than a month. The four-time World Cup champ has all but conceding the Overall title to Tina Maze. However, Vonn still has a sizable lead in the downhill standings and is looking to register a good result in this, the final speed event before the World Championships in Schladming.
Cortina has historically been a good site for her — six wins, four of them in super G. Victories have been known to come in streaks at Cortina. The amazing Renate Goetschl won here ten times, Isolde Kostner fives times, and Katja Seizinger and the late Regina Cavagnoud each had four wins.
With Alice McKennis becoming the fifth American to reach the podium in a World Cup speed event this season, the U.S. women are on a roll heading into the weekend. And they’ll need to bring their A-game, as Cortina is widely considered one of the toughest races on the circuit.
It’s also one of the most scenic. The Olimpia delle Tofane course faces the Ampezzo Valley and is backed by the massifs, huge towering rock formations. The track tests speed skiing skills dramatically with steep narrow gullies, jumps set at curves, big S turns and a ramble through the woods.
Last season, it was host-nation favorite Daniela Merighetti picking up the win, as Lindsey Vonn and Maria Hoefl-Riesch rounded out the podium. Stacey Cook and Julia Mancuso clocked top 10 results, finishing sixth and ninth, respectively. The weekend features a downhill Saturday and super G Sunday.