Fischi flies to Olympic gold

20 February 2010 23:30

WHISTLER, B.C. - In the last two years Andrea Fischbacher has established a reputation among her teammates and World Cup peers as a girl who gets the job done on tricky courses. She proved that with her bronze medal in the world championship super G last season on the daunting Val d'Isere course and she proved it more than she ever before on Saturday, winning an Olympic gold medal.

The 24-year-old who loves to ride motorcycles in the summer made everyone's head roll when she fired down Franz's Run at Whistler faster than every racer before her on every split except for the bottom, where teammate and Monday's downhill bronze medalist Elisabeth Goergl was the fastest, though finished fifth.

"I think I am dreaming. It's unbelievable," Fischbacher said, adding that after finishing fourth by 0.03 seconds in the downhill, her game plan for super G was simply full attack. "I just looked down the hill and thought down, down, down."

Saturday's silver medal was won by another athlete who's proven to be a threat not just in super G but in every discipline. Tina Maze earned the first Olympic super G medal ever won by a Slovenian.

"It's a great feeling to achieve this for my small country," Maze said, dedicating her medal to Lara Gut, Nadia Fanchini and Slovenian racers "who cannot race this winter because they are injured."

After the Olympic downhill, in which she finished 18th, Maze said she was afraid of the course and planned to put most of her medal efforts into the Olympic technical races. On Saturday, however, she showed no fear.

"I'm happy that I did the downhill and [felt] the fear and have all the courage today," she said. "I just let go. I attacked the course. I never believe I can be so good. I didn't know what to expect. I was looking for the number 'where am I?'. Then I saw number two. It was amazing."

Lindsey Vonn, who let it go in the first half of her run but said she didn't attack as much as she could have or should have on the second half, took the bronze.

"It's still very special," said the American of her second Olympic medal. "You can never have a perfect day every day. I didn't ski as well as I could have but a bronze medal is still an Olympic medal."

Starting first, Julia Mancuso led the race until Maria Riesch, starting No. 8., beat her by 0.04 seconds as many athletes were taken wide around the snappy Frog Bank section of the course. Goergl, starting No. 16 came down three tenths of a second ahead and Vonn beat her time by another three tenths. Many people thought the race might be over when super G threat Fabienne Suter never found the right line but Fischbacher fired out of the start and finished 0.74 seconds faster than anyone.

"She just skied it well from the top to the finish," Goergl said. "It's good to have a gold medal for us."

Then it was Maze's turn and, gaining speed on the bottom where many racers slowed down, she finished 0.49 seconds behind Fischbacher.

"I thought Fischi could be very fast on this track," Suter said. "And yes, Tina Maze ... maybe. She's always good for a surprise. You never know what she will do."

Anna Fenninger, who finished 16th, was almost speechless about the performance of her Austrian teammate.

"It was really one of the best runs from Andrea," Fennigner said. "I find no words to say about it, she's Olympic champion and it's amazing. It was really a course for Andrea. It was really hard to be fast because there was so much speed and so [many] turns with the speed and it was bumpy. Andrea's really a technical skier."

U.S. women's head coach Jim Tracy, who was proud of Vonn but said she held back a bit on the bottom part of the course, was very impressed by Fischbacher's and Maze's runs.

"The bottom section was a place where, if you ski well you'll carry decent speed, but in the Olympics, it's about putting it all on the line. If you don't put it on the line you're not going to be as fast as you want to be," he said. "That's classic today of Fischbacher. She put it all on the line. Either she was going to win or go out. Tina is a threat now in every single event. We could see that coming. Tina .. she's a fighter, just like a lot of the other girls. She deserves this ... this was a great result for her."

- by Shauna Farnell