LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – Lindsey Vonn collected her 16th-career World Cup victory at Lake Louise in the first of two scheduled downhills, but the run was not without pure athletic spectacle to avoid serious disaster. Vonn clocked the fastest splits all the way to the midsection on course where she decided to take a little extra risk with a straighter line, and that’s where she nearly lost it all.
“I came in (to Fish Net) with a really direct line – probably a little bit too direct, and I caught my edge funny. I did the splits. I thought I was going down, then I somehow managed to stay on my feet. When I realized I was still in the course, I just got back into my tuck and tried to make up as much time as I could on the bottom,” said Vonn. “That was not planned. I should probably not do that tomorrow.”
Her smile in the finish area told the crowd that one didn’t come as easily as the final time indicated.
Vonn lost her 0.40-second advantage over Cornelia “Conny” Huetter with the critical mistake, but she recovered the lost time and added even more with precise gliding from Timing Flats to the finish, ultimately outpacing the Austrian by a truly impressive 0.58 seconds, all things considered.
For Vonn, the winningest woman in World Cup history, another victory at Lake Louise isn’t simply an additional tally mark on her record. She finds value in each and every race at the Canadian resort, even those that haven’t ended on the podium.
“I think last year’s win was probably the most significant for me coming back from two injuries and being able to win again was an incredible feeling. This year it’s just as incredible – I kind of feel old, all the other girls on the podium with me are very young,” noted Vonn. “I kind of felt relieved to be on the top step of the podium again today and to reassert myself as someone who’s not going away in the speed events.”
The 31-year-old speedster was flanked on the podium by two Austrians, the 23-year-old Huetter and 24-year-old Ramona Siebenhofer. It was Huetter’s second podium result of her career and the first for Siebenhofer.
“Today I would have been happy with a top 15, so it’s a big surprise,” said Siebenhofer. “It didn’t feel like such an amazing run. Last year I fell in Fall Away, so I was a bit conservative in that section today. I was like ‘Yes, it’s OK but not that great.’ Then I crossed the finish line and I saw the number three. That is so amazing. I cannot describe it.”
The Austrian duo laid down an impressive opening training run, but faltered some on Thursday before the race.
“It’s a nice track because it’s a speedy downhill, so it’s fun to ski fast … today I had a good run, so I am super happy about it,” said Huetter. “For me it’s important to stay forward on my skis and keep my (butt) up, so I’ll try this again tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.”
Vonn’s teammate Stacey Cook had an equally horrifying mishap at high speed when she caught her edge heading into Timing Flats, but she also pulled off a miraculous recovery and held on to finish in fifth.
“I was coming around the last corner, I was really feeling it and then all I saw was fence. I just kind of got caught up in some old tracks, and I was really just trying to let my skis go, and they went in the wrong direction. There are mistakes that you make from taking risks and there are mistakes you make from a bad plan. And this was a mistake from taking risks, so I have no regrets,” said Cook. “Typically the first race is always the weaker one for me. I like more runs on the track – that’s kind of my thing – I start having more and more fun. So hopefully tomorrow is solid from top to bottom.”
Other U.S. Ski Team finishers in the points included Laurenne Ross in 19th, Alice McKennis in 25th, and Jackie Wiles rounding out the scoring in 30th.
The women will get a rematch on the track Saturday for the second of two downhills scheduled at Lake Louise, again beginning at 12:45 p.m. MST.
By Hank McKee
1 Vonn, Head/Head/Head
2 Huetter, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
3 Siebenhofer, Head/Head/Head
4 Bailet, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5 Cook, Stockli/Rossignol/Rossignol
6 Suter, Dynastar/Lange/Dynastar
6 Gut, Head/Head/Head
8 Fanchini, Dynastar/Lange/Look
9 Stuffer, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
10 Venier, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Women’s World Cup downhill, Lake Louise, Canada, Dec. 4, 2015. … It is the fifth of 41 races on the women’s World Cup schedule … the first of nine scheduled downhills and the first of two being held back-to-back at Lake Louise. There is also a super G slated at the site. Lake Louise has hosted 102 World Cup races, 61 of them downhills. Lindsey Vonn won the last women’s downhill at the site Dec. 6, 2014. … Tina Maze won the downhill the previous day.
- It is a World Cup record 68th win for Lindsey Vonn and a record 16th win at Lake Louise, her 13th in downhill. It is the 291st U.S.World Cup win … the fourth this season in nine races held. … Winning margin is 0.58 of a second. … Just two skiers are within the same second… Top 14 within two seconds.
- It is a career best World Cup result for Cornelia Huetter and her second career podium after a third at Val d’Isere Dec. 21, 2013. … It is third second-place finish without a win of the season for Austria.
- It is the first career World Cup podium for Ramona Siebenhofer, her previous best a sixth in GS at Maribor Jan. 16, 2010. … Her previous best in downhill was 17th at Lake Louise Dec. 6, 2013.
- It is the eighth top-five finish for Stacey Cook, the fifth of those coming at Lake Louise. … It is the seventh best World Cup result for Larisa Yurkiw. … She has twice been better at Lake Louise. … It is the 36th top-20 finish in a World Cup race for Laurenne Ross. … It is the 31st career-scoring finish for Alice McKennis. … It is the seventh World Cup scoring result for Jacqueline Wiles.
- Combined with the men’s race at Beaver Creek, nine of 13 U.S. skiers scored on Dec. 4, 2015.
- Mikaela Shiffrin (did not race) holds the lead of the World Cup overall standings 280-195 over Frida Hansdotter (did not race). … Lara Gut (sixth in race), holds third with 190pts. … Lindsey Vonn is tied for seventh overall with 100pts and leads the downhill standings after one race.
- Italy leads the women’s Nations Cup 528-523 over Austria. … The U.S. is third with 486pts and Canada seventh with 183pts.
|34||29||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR||1:54.20||+3.70||41.86|
|37||43||206548||MAGG Ann Katrin||1994||GER||1:54.50||+4.00||45.25|
|50||53||465098||CAILL Ania Monica||1995||ROU||1:58.76||+8.26||93.44|
|Did not finish 1st run|