Anna Fenninger grasps first Olympic medal
KRASNAYA POLYANA - Anna FENNINGER (AUT) took gold in the ladies super G on Saturday. The 24-year-old won Austria's fourth Olympic gold in the event, finishing ahead of Maria HOEFL-RIESCH (GER) and teammate Nicole HOSP (AUT).
It was a first Olympic medal for FENNINGER, the 2011 super combined champion, as she finished in 1 minute and 25.52 seconds. Her previous best Olympic performance was 16th in the same event at the Vancouver 2010 Games.
On a course set by Austrian alpine skiing coach Florian WINKLER (AUT), the big guns watched on and learned as eight of the first 11 starters failed to finish the course. The tight, steep turns are typical of WINKLER's designs.
"It's such a difficult track but I have to give praise to the coach who set the course because you have to be so tactical," said FENNINGER.
Teammate HOSP continued her scorching form at the Games, setting the pace with a blistering bottom section. The Sochi 2014 super combined silver medallist was followed down the course by FENNINGER, after Tina WEIRATHER (LIE) pulled out at the start gate, succumbing to a training-run injury.
FENNINGER finished on the podium in each of the first three world cup super G races this season and she brought that form to the Rosa Khutor slope. She was ahead of HOSP from the first intermediate split.
An Austrian one-two looked a possibility as HOEFL-RIESCH, the last of the top seeds to start, was down at the first and second splits. The three-time Olympic gold medallist produced a flawless middle section, however, to take the lead on the third split. A mistake on the final jump prevented the German from adding super G gold to the super combined gold she won on Monday.
"This is my 10th (Olympic and world championship) medal and my first silver. Of course, gold would have been better, but I'm still very proud, especially because it was on such a difficult course," HOEFL-RIESCH said.
Despite the fact only one of the top seven seeds failed to finish (Elisabeth GOERGL, AUT), the course and conditions remained under the spotlight.
WINKLER was unapologetic about the course he had set.
"It was our goal for the course [to be difficult]. I was surprised by the amount of girls who skied out. It was a day of mistakes for many," said the Austrian, having watched two of his charges claim gold and bronze, the second time this has happened in the ladies Olympic super G.