Fischbacher edges Fenninger to win Crans-Montana downhill
Crans-Montana, Switzerland – We had a beautiful morning in the heart of the Swiss Alps, with some low clouds in the valley. These clouds invaded the course as the morning went on and forced the organisers and the jury to delay the race. In the end, the 55 racers could battle it out for top honours in regular conditions with an acceptable visibility.
It looked as if Austria's Anna Fenninger was going to clinch the first World Cup downhill victory of her career. Starting with bib 21, the 24-year-old charged down the new and challenging “Mont-Lachaux” slope to take the lead. But then, wearing bib number 29, her teammate Andrea Fischbacher put a stunning run together to race to her third career World Cup win, five years after her last victory in Bansko (BUL). She posted the winning time of 1:34.00, 0.15 seconds faster than Fenninger. Rounding out the podium today 0.47 seconds off the pace, Slovenia's Tina Maze landed her 67th career World Cup podium. Dominant in the first training and big favourite today, Lara Gut skied out after the first third of the course.
Andrea Fischbacher's last great career achievement occurred four years ago at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver where she won the super-G race. Since then, the Austrian champion has been struggling with back and knees problems.
"The last time I was on the podium was at the Vancouver Games and it feels just great to be back on top four years later," she said. "Today's downhill was very difficult. The course was tricky with many gates. It was hard to see them coming. Today I manage to let my skis go and to ski freely without thinking of my back and knees problems. Last time I won a World Cup race, it was in a very difficult and bumpy race in Bansko. I might be good in such tough and challenging races. I am also quite good at remembering the new courses easily. That might also be an advantage."
Still looking for her first career World Cup victory in downhill, Anna Fenninger was just delighted to see her teammate overtake her in today's standings. "I still haven't won a downhill race yet, but today's result makes me very happy for myself and Andrea," she commented at the press conference."She's an Olympic champion and knows for sure how to be ski fast. It's nice for she managed to do it again today. It's also a big moment for our team."
"We only had one training day and that made it tough for us today. One can see who are the best racers on such difficult slopes. I like this new course. I already knew the other slope but I definitely like the knew one more."
Crans-Montana has not been a happy hunting ground for Tina Maze in the past. In the only two World Cup downhills there in her career, she was disqualified in 2008 and did not start in 2010. The new slope was a good thing for her. "It's a really challenging and tough downhill," she said. "It's always hard to ski fast when visibility isn't ideal. On the first and only training day, the goal was just to see what the new downhill was like. I was a bit sceptical after the training. I didn't know how I could be fast on that hill. I am for sure really happy with the result and that we got to race in the end."
In the downhill standings, Anna Fenninger sits now in second, but is still 80 points behind the leader Maria Höfl-Riesch who finished 9th today. In the overall standings, the German leads now with 1108 points, 157 more than Fenninger.
The World Cup tour will now shift to Are (SWE) for two giant slaloms and one slalom. The action starts on Thursday.
Here are the full results.