All eyes in the world of ski racing were on Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, today to see if Lindsey Vonn could tie Annemarie Moser-Proell’s all-time record for World Cup wins with her 62nd in the replacement race from Bad Kleinkirchheim. After leading the one and only training run on Thursday, it was looking promising for Vonn, who had won the last two downhills of the season and has long-running success on the Cortina track. But the record will have to wait for another day, as Italian Elena Fanchini gave the hometown crowd a huge surprise with the second World Cup win of her career, nearly 10 years after her first victory.
Vonn finished 10th.
The weather was a factor yet again. Heavy fog blanketed the upper section of the course forcing organizers to move the start down, cutting 30 seconds off of the run. The shortened course didn’t allow for any mistakes with only 0.88 seconds separating the top-10 finishers.
“I was really surprised at how foggy it was. It was foggy until Daytona, the big left-footed turn coming around the corner. I charged, but I still had a hard time seeing everything,” said Vonn. “The bottom was a little bit better, but it was still snowing and the snow definitely slows the track down especially on the flats. … Hopefully tomorrow the weather is better and we can start from the top because it’s such a fun downhill and it’s not the same without the top.”
Fanchini skied aggressively and was able to stay on-line better than her competitors in the challenging conditions. She crossed the finish line 0.15 seconds ahead of then-leader Larissa Yurkiw of Canada, who held her position to finish second on the day for her first career podium. Viktoria Rebensburg rounded out the podium in third, 0.31 seconds back.
“Last night I watched the winning run of Isolde Kostner in 2001,” said Fanchini. “She is the last Italian racer to have won a downhill in Cortina and I tried to replicate her performance today. I am so happy it worked out.” (Fanchini appeared to forget the win by her teammate Daniela Merighetti who won the Cortina downhill in 2012).
Yurkiw, who skis as an independent for Canada, finished fourth in a downhill in Lake Louise earlier in the season to help build her confidence. She started early today with bib 3, and perhaps – along with Rebensburg (bib 5) and Laurenne Ross (bib 1) who finished fourth – benefitted from the sun that peaked through the clouds for early racers. Regardless, Yurkiw was able to ski a clean run and carried her speed well from the middle turns onto the bottom flat.
“I’ve worked very hard and always hoped for a result like this,” Yurkiw confessed. “You do your job and then you’re rewarded. It doesn’t always happen like that. I was a bit lucky with my bib today. I think that lots of things came together today, and I did my job well.”
Rebensburg, normally known better as a giant slalom skier, has been showing speed in downhill this season. After picking up her first-ever downhill podium in Val d’Isere in December, Rebensburg skied a smooth, attacking run to land herself on the podium yet again.
Despite Vonn’s disappointment with her 10th-place finish, the Americans had a strong showing led by Ross in fourth. Ross started first and skied a solid run to lead off the day. She was immediately bumped back to third by Yurkiw and Rebensburg, but for a while it appeared a podium was in reach until Fanchini spoiled the party, or at least created a new one of her own. Julia Mancuso skied well on the top half of the course, but a couple small bobbles pushed her back to eighth, 0.75 seconds off the lead. Stacey Cook finished 26th.
Vonn lost a majority of her time in the upper, foggy section of the course and never appeared comfortable in the flat light that lined the bottom for the later racers. She was clearly disappointed when she crossed the finish line, but will have two more chances to tackle the Cortina course, with Saturday’s downhill and Sunday’s super G.
“It’s definitely a lot of pressure (the record) and I feel like I’m skiing well in downhill. I was a little bit nervous today, but I pushed the limit as much as I could … I have no regrets,” said Vonn after the race. “I skied the best that I could and it just wasn’t quite fast enough today, but the pressure will be there until I can break the record and I just have to focus on the skiing and that is what is going to win me races.”
World Cup overall leader Tina Maze had a similar reaction to Vonn in the finish and was not happy with her 13th-place finish. Despite the result, she extended her lead in the overall standings over Mikaela Shiffrin (who did not race) and holds a commanding 877-605 lead.
The women continue in Cortina with more speed action on Saturday and Sunday.
By Hank McKee
2 Yurkiw, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
5 Fenninger, Head/Head/Head
6 Kling, Head/Head/Head
7 Merighetti, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
8 Mancuso, Head/Head/Head
10 Vonn, Head/Head/Head
Women’s World Cup downhill, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, Jan. 16, 2015:
- It is a make-up race from Bad Kleinkirchheim blown out Jan. 10 by wind and weather. … It is the 16th of 34 races remaining on the women’s 2015 World Cup schedule. … The fifth of eight scheduled downhills. … It is the first of three races set at Cortina on the current calendar. … It is the 93rd World Cup race held at Cortina. … Tina Maze is the defending DH champ.
- It is the second career World Cup win for Elena Fanchini, the first coming ten years and nine seasons ago at Lake Louise Dec. 2, 2005. … Winning margin is .15 of a second. … Top 14 skiers are within the same second. … Top 35 within two seconds. … It is the second win of the season for Italy, both coming in January (Stefano Gross Jan. 11).
- It is a career best and first World Cup podium for Larisa Yurkiw. … Her previous best had been fourth at Lake Louise earlier this season.
- It is the 22nd career World Cup podium for Viktoria Rebensburg … her second in downhill, the other coming earlier this season at Val d’Isere Dec. 20.
- Laurenne Ross matches her second best career result marking the third time she has finished fourth, second time in downhill. … Her best is a second at Garmisch in DH March 2, 1013. … It is the 19th time Julia Mancuso has placed in the top eight of a Cortina World Cup. … The 24th time Vonn has placed in the top ten of a Cortina World Cup. … It is the 19th time Stacey Cook has scored at Cortina. … Her best finishes both came last season.
- Tina Maze maintains control of the World Cup overall standings 877-605 over Mikaela Shiffrin (did not race). … Anna Fenninger (fifth in race) sits third with 532pts. … Vonn is eighth overall with 338pts.
- Vonn leads the downhill standings 258-211 over Viktoria Rebensburg with Maze third at 188pts. … Yurkiw moves to sixth with 159pts, Mancuso to seventh with 144pts and Laurenne Ross to eighth with 140pts.
- Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup 2782-1599 over the U.S. …Sweden is third with 1482 and Canada eighth with 475pts. … The U.S. women lead the downhill standings 695-579 over Austria.
|14||27||495318||RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina||1981||SPA||1:10.51||+0.98||17.62|
|33||6||196460||JAY MARCHAND-ARVIER Marie||1985||FRA||1:11.33||+1.80||32.36|