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LINDSEY KILDOW AND CAROLINE LALIVE 1-2 IN BLUSTERY VAL D’ISERE DOWNHILLVAL D’ISERE, France – Lindsey Kildow and Caroline Lalive took the top two spots in a blustery World Cup downhill Saturday at Val d’Isere, France. It is the 17th time in World Cup history that Americans have gone one-two, but the first time women have done it since Dec. 9, 1994.

“I won in Lake Louise but I still hadn’t won a race in Europe and it feels good,” said Kildow, who organizers awarded with a cow for her victory, the third of her career. “It was hard because of the weather and it was really windy. I knew you had to be aggressive to win and I just took chances. I made some mistakes but I guess I was still fast.”

No American woman had ever previously won a World Cup at Val d’Isere. The last best result was Picabo Street’s second-place finish in 1996. Jean Saubert won the giant slalom and combined in 1963, but that was in the pre-World Cup era.

The two Americans survived perilous weather conditions that included snow, wind and cold. Lalive edged Austria’s Alexandra Meissnitzer by just one hundredth of a second.

“I think she’s already the favorite for the World Cup downhill title,” said Meissnitzer of Kildow. “I just think she has it in her. There are a few things in downhill you can’t learn. It’s like when you have the feeling for the skis, like Picabo Street, she had it. Let the skis run and Kildow is also always really good in the tehcnical parts so I think she has everything. That’s what it takes.”

Lalive said she waited in the finish until the last racer was down, having been bumped off a super G podium last year at the last minute when Tina Maze, starting in the 50s, came down to finish third.

“I think the ambience on the team right now is really strong,” said Lalive after the race. “I’ve been on the team now 10 years, and I’ve never been feeling in such a good place with the team. Everyone pushes each other. I think we’re coming into good form for the Olympics.”

Bad weather nearly ruins a great day for the Americans
The race began from the super G start (170 meters lower on the hill, making the course 350 meters shorter) due to inclement weather on the Oreiller-Killy course. More than 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) of heavy, wet snow fell on the track between Friday’s training run and the start of the race.

As racers woke up on Saturday morning, the sky was clearing and the sun began to shine, but the start was still delayed due to 95 mile-per-hour winds. The race ultimately started at noon, 90 minutes later than it was originally scheduled to begin.

The race was held up several times before and after Kildow and Lalive ran (starting 23 and 24) so racers could be picked up after crashing. Katrin Blaser of Austria tumbled early in the race and took her time getting up; a team spokesperson said she had hurt her knee, but couldn’t say if it was serious.

The race was stopped after racer number 47, leaving athletes stranded at the top, including American Libby Ludlow. Their coaches complained about the decision in the team captains’ meeting Saturday night.

“Obviously I’m happy we raced,” said Lalive after her run. “The conditions were varying the whole time. They would stop and start. I think they did the best I could do. I was really impressed with the people in Val d’Isere, because there was a lot of snow. The fact that we were able to race today at all was impressive.”

Weather is a demon for the French resort. Last year’s races at Val d’Isere were canceled due to a blizzard that blew much of the safety fencing out of the ground. The year before that (2003-04), the races were canceled because of a lack of snow.

Season is in full swing
While Kildow was winning the race in 1 minute, 21.91 seconds, the men’s World Cup was in Val Gardena, Italy, for the classic downhill there. Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein was the winner.

The winners of the two training runs at Val d’Isere were Michaela Dorfmeister and Katja Wirth, both of Austria. Dorfmeister finished eighth in the race, and Wirth did not finish.

Last year there was a tough fight for the women’s downhill discipline title, with Austria’s Renate Goetschl finally emerging as the globe winner.

This was the third women’s downhill of the World Cup season, the first two coming at Lake Louise on Dec. 2 and 3. Elena Fanchini and Lindsey Kildow won those races.

On Sunday the women are scheduled to race super G in Val d’Isere. The next two downhills don’t come until Jan. 13 and 14 at Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria — a new course with an unusually steep opening section.

Last week, Val d’Isere hosted two men’s races, a downhill and super combined, both won by Michael Walchhofer of Austria. During those races, the women were at the World Cup in Aspen.

Tomorrow the women will be race super G on the Val d’Isere slope, while the men will be over in Alta Badia, Italy, tackling the tricky giant slalom there.

Americans giving it a 1-2 punch
The U.S. Ski Team has been making a habit of one-two finishes in recent seasons. Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves have done it five times in the last two years. Last season they tied for the win in the Lenzerheide super G, and went one-two in both the World Championships downhill in Bormio and, of course, the Birds of Prey downhill. This year they did it on successive days at Beaver Creek, with Rahlves beating Miller in the downhill and Miller switching the order in the giant slalom the next day.

According to Ski Racing’s database, still humming along in the Vermont woods, Americans had taken the top two spots in 16 World Cup races before this one. See here for more.

Val d’Isere, the ultimate ski town
Val d’Isere is a classic of the World Cup calendar, having hosted races since 1968. The mountain hosted men’s Olympic events in 1992, and is slated to put on the 2009 alpine World Championships. The hometown of Jean-Claude Killy and the Goitschel sisters, Marielle and Christine, the village sits at the top of a steep valley in the French Alps.

Henri Oreiller, whose motto was “victory or hospital,” was also from Val d’Isere. Oreiller won two golds (downhill and combined) and one bronze (slalom) at the 1948 Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Video of those runs is available here.

Ingrid Jacquemod, one of France’s top current racers, is from Val d’Isere. Jacquemod finished 16th.

World Cup down
hill results

1. Lindsey Kildow, United States, 1 minute, 21.91 seconds.
2. Caroline Lalive, United States, 1:22.29.
3. Alexandra Meissnitzer, Austria, 1:22.30.
4. Petra Haltmayr, Germany, 1:22.46.
5. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 1:22.48.
6. Lucia Recchia, Italy, 1:22.53.
6. Carole Montillet-Carles, France, 1:22.53.
8. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 1:22.62.
9. Fraenzi Aufdenblatten, Switzerland, 1:22.65.
10. Daniela Ceccarelli, Italy, 1:22.72.
11. Sherry Lawrence, Canada, 1:22.96.
12. Julia Mancuso, United States, 1:23.00
13. Catherine Borghi, Switzerland, 1:23.12.
13. Renate Goetschl, Austria, 1:23.13.
15. Sylviane Berthod, Switzerland, 1:23.14.
16. Ingrid Jacquemod, France, 1:23.24.
17. Nadia Fanchini, Italy, 1:23.26.
18. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 1:23.28.
19. Brigitte Obermoser, Austria, 1:23.30.
20. Nike Bent, Sweden, 1:23.37.
21. Kirsten L. Clark, United States, 1:23.42.
22. Janette Hargin, Sweden, 1:23.48.
23. Kelly Vanderbeek, Canada, 1:23.58.
24. Ingrid Rumpfhuber, Austria, 1:23.62.
25. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, Sweden, 1:23.71.
26. Genevieve Simard, Canada, 1:23.72.
27. Silvia Berger, Austria, 1:23.87.
27. Emily Brydon, Canada, 1:23.87.
29. Monika Dumermuth, Switzerland, 1:23.92.
30. Stacey J. Cook, United States, 1:23.93.
Did not finish
Shona Rubens, Canada; Karin Blaser, Austria; Carmen Casanova, Switzerland; Katja Wirth, Austria; Tina Maze, Slovenia; Nadia Styger, Switzerland; Elena Fanchini, Italy Daniela Mueller, Austria; Urska Rabic, Slovenia.

World Cup overall standings
(After eight races)

1. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 366 points.
2. Lindsey Kildow, United States, 322.
3. Alexandra Meissnitzer, Austria, 320.
4. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 303.
5. Anja Paerson, Sweden, 275.
6. Andrea Fischbacher, Austria, 221.
7. Nadia Styger, Switzerland, 198.
8. Elisabeth Goergl, Austria, 172.
9. Kathrin Zettel, Austria, 170.
10. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 161.

World Cup downhill standings
(After three races)

1. Lindsey Kildow, United States, 245 points.
2. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 172.
3. Alexandra Meissnitzer, Austria, 170.
4. Elena Fanchini, Italy, 136.
5. Sylviane Berthod, Switzerland, 128.
6. Caroline Lalive, United States, 80.
6. Julia Mancuso, United States, 80.
8. Renate Goetschl, Austria, 79.
9. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 70.
10. Ingrid Rumpfhuber, Austria, 63.

By Hank McKee

It is the eighth race of the women’s 34 race, 2 combined World Cup season. … The third of eight scheduled downhills. … First of a two-race stop at Val d’Isere (men have also completed two)… Falling snow delayed the race. … It was stopped after 47 starters.

It is the third career win for Lindsey Kildow. … All in DH. … It is her second win of the season after Lake Louise Dec. 3. … It is the 156th U.S. World Cup win. … It is the fourth U.S. win of the season. … Kildow is the first American with two wins this season. … It is her first win in Europe. … She joins Phil Mahre, AJ Kitt and Bode Miller as U.S. skiers who have won World Cups at Val d’Isere.

It is the fourth time Caroline Lalive has been second, two of them in combined and once in DH March 6, 2002, at Altenmarkt-Zauchense. … Lalive has had solid results at Val d’Isere with three top-seven results among five scoring finishes. … It is the third one-two finish by Americans this season.

It is the 41st career podium for Alexandra Meissnitzer. … Her eighth in DH. … Her third this season. … In three DH’s and two SG’s held this season she has not finished worse than fourth.

Eleventh is a career-best result for Sherry Lawrence. … It is just her third scoring finish, the first a 26th in combined Feb. 27, 2005, and the other in DH at Lake Louise Dec. 2. … It is the seventh scoring result in eight races this season for Julia Mancuso and matches her second-best result of the season. … It is the fourth scoring result of the season for Kirsten Clark. … It is the 17th score of the career and fourth of the season for Kelly Vanderbeek. …It is the fourth career DH score for Genevieve Simard. … It is the third scoring result of the season for Emily Brydon. … It is the third career scoring result for Stacey Cook. … All of them have come in DH and all this season.

Michaela Dorfmeister (tied for sixth in race) takes over the lead of the overall World Cup standings 366-322 over Lindsey Kildow. … Previous tour leader Alexandra Meissnitzer is third at 320. … Kildow takes solid control of the DH standings 245-172 over Dorfmeister. … Meissnitzer is third at 170.

Winning margin is .38 of a second. … Top 10 skiers are within the same second. … Top 27 within two seconds. Women had not held a DH at Val d’Isere since 1997.

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