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Dec. 1: Lake Louise: Fanchini tops in final training run

Dec. 1: Lake Louise: Fanchini tops in final training runLAKE LOUISE, ALBERTA – Elena Fanchini from Italy posted the hottest final training run on a bitterly cold day at Lake Louise Thursday.

Fanchini finished with a time of 1 minute, 48.32 seconds, with Austria’s Alexandra Meissnitzer in second at 1.49.08 and her teammate and winner of the second training run, Michaela Dorfmeister in third with a time of 1.49.15.
Leading the American squad was Julia Mancuso in fifth, 1.10 seconds behind Fanchini, with Stacey Cook a surprise sixth, running from the 59th start position. Among the Americans, Lindsey Kildow followed in 15th, Jonna Mendes 20th, Libby Ludlow 21st, Bryna McCarty 22nd, Kirsten Clark 31st and Caroline Lalive 43rd.
Kelly Vanderbeek will be the lone Canadian in the top 30 in tomorrow’s race after finishing 25th.
With temperatures hovering just above zero (F) at the start and below zero at the finish, racers had every exposed piece of flesh covered with tape to protect from frostbite, but bright sun provided good visibility on a track that has been running progressively faster with each training run.
First racer down the course, Janette Hargin from Sweden said, ‘It was harder snow today and about two seconds faster. I was surprised.’
Mendes, running second, was also better than two seconds faster and feeling ready to roll for tomorrow’s race. ‘It’s running great, the only difference is it’s faster and slicker’ said Mendes, seeking some warmth from the sun at the finish. ‘The cold isn’t really a problem except for flexing our boots. They get hard and it forces you back, which can be tiring, but I’m feeling good and ready to go.’

The defending champion from the first race at Lake Louise last season, Kildow, is poised to defend her title after posting one of the fastest speeds in the speed trap and some of the fastest split times on the upper part of the course. Kildow stood up on the final section of the course with the hopes of running 17th, her bib number from her winning run last year. She was close, finishing 15th, which will give her the 15th start position for the race. ‘Yeah, there are a lot of nerves, being the first race of the season, and also being defending champion’ Kildow confessed.

Cook’s sixth place earned her spot in tomorrow’s lineup, as well as a prime starting number. She and teammate Ludlow were dueling for the final U.S. Ski Team quota spot with today’s result to determine who would race. Cook was pleased, but not too surprised. ‘I’ve been skiing well in training and I knew I could do well’ said Cook as she wandered into the near-empty base lodge. ‘I just had to focus on the stuff I was working on and not really care about the time.’ As for race day strategy, Cook said, ‘Tomorrow’s a new day and I just have to keep my focus.’

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