Höfl-Riesch picks up 25th career win at Lake Louise
Lake Louise, Canada – The temperatures in Banff National Park were slightly colder than the days before to welcome the World Cup ladies to the first downhill race of the week. The combination of extremely low temperatures with humidity resulted in a layer of fog mid-course that forced the jury and the organisers to delay the race by 60 minutes.
Germany's Maria Höfl-Riesch wasn't disturbed by the wait and proved her excellent shape this week by winning the second downhill of the season Friday, recording a time of 1:56.03. She beat Switzerland's Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden by 0.70 seconds, while Italy's Elena Fanchini finished third, 1.20 seconds behind.
After two excellent training runs, Maria Höfl-Riesch raced today to her fourth downhill victory in Lake Louise. "I knew the line and knew what to do", said the German. "After two good trainings days, I was hoping I would be able to replicate that today and I'm rally happy I did."
"When I first came to Lake Louise at the age of 18 I knew I was going to like that hill. I've had some good results here since. Winning today gives me a lot of confidence for the next races and I will try my best tomorrow. I will ski the same line and use the same skis for hopefully another good result."
Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden climbed onto the podium for the third time in her career. The last time was one year ago in Lake Louise. "I didn't ski the perfect line in top section of the course but the bottom part was much better", confessed the 27-year-old. "Beaver Creek was very difficult last week and I wasn't very satisfied with my performance there. The second place today is great."
With a second podium spot within one week, Elena Fanchini is at her best shape ever. "I feel really good about my race today and of course I am molto felice", she said in her shy English.
All eyes were on Lindsey Vonn's return to World Cup action. The American skied a bit cautiously and finished 40th, 3.19 seconds off the pace. "I usually come to Lake Louise with rhythm and today was clearly not the case, since my last race was in February", she admitted after the race. "It would be for sure nice to come out of the gates and win, but unfortunately it is not that easy. I was just too nervous and tight. I skied that way without pushing the line and that is not my style. But I know I can do it. Tomorrow is going to be a different story for me. I will hopefully be able to be much more relaxed and confident to ski more aggressively, more like myself", she concluded.
Before today, the last five World Cup downhill races were won by five different skiers: Gut, Tina Maze (SLO), Carolina Ruiz Castillo (ESP), Vonn and Alice McKennis (USA). With Höfl-Riesch's victory, it is extended to six different skiers. That is the first time this has happened since a run of seven consecutive different winners between January and December 2006.
In the downhill standings, Maria Höfl-Riesch overtook Lara gut with today's win. She now has 136 points, 10 more than the Swiss racer. In the overall standings, Lara Gut is still in the lead, with 326 points, 33 points over the winner of the day.
Tune in tomorrow for the second downhill of the week. Start scheduled for 12:30 LOC / 20:30 CET
Here are the full results of the day!