Marchand-Arvier ahead in chilly Garmisch training

02 February 2012 13:27

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – The face tape was in effect on Thursday at the base of the Kandahar race track, where the temperature stood at about -10 Celsius and the ladies were smacking their hands on their legs in an attempt to warm them up after the first downhill training run.

Although she missed a gate, France’s Marie Marchand-Arvier put down the fastest run as light snow fell throughout the morning (the training start was delayed a half hour to 11 a.m.) and visibility was grey at best. The women are competing on the same track they used for last year’s world championship speed races, only conditions were far different than they were last February, when the weather was spring-like and there was very little snow on fields surrounding the Bavarian mountain town.

“The course is good except some gates, it’s very bumpy, but I think it’s way, way better than last year, more easy to ski,” said Marchand-Arvier, who finished the full-length course in 1 minute, 47.85 seconds. “It’s soft on the beginning but there’s some speed so you can have big jumps. Today I was trying to do my best, to keep going like that. I missed one gate, but I don’t think it made me a lot faster. I have to fix that tomorrow.”

About 10 to 15 centimeters of snow fell overnight before Thursday’s training but other than visibility and the bitter cold ,course conditions were good, according to Lindsey Vonn, who was second in training,  0.21 seconds slower than Marchand-Arvier with a clean run and standing up before crossing the finish line.

“It snowed a lot last night and they worked really hard – they did a great job clearing the course. I think conditions are great,” Vonn said. “It’s a little smoother than last year. It’s still bumpy in the traverse but because of the new snow. Visibility wasn’t great, but who neeeds to see where they’re going? I’m excited to be back here and hopefully have a different outcome this year than I had last year.”

Vonn came into the world championships in less than optimal form last season, having sustained a bad concussion days before the competition began. Nonetheless, she walked away with the silver medal in the downhill event and was seventh in the super G.

The reigning queen of the Kandahar slope is Austrian Elisabeth Goergl, who blazed a trail of fire down the speed track in Garmisch, taking gold medals in both the downhill and super G. Goergl was fourth in training on Thursday, 0.93 seconds off the lead time and behind third-place Daniela Merighetti, who finished 0.68 seconds back.

Prior to the 2011 world champs, the women’s World Cup tour stopped in Garmisch in 2009 for super G and slalom and 2010 for finals.

Vonn won the super G in 2009, followed by Anja Paerson (14th in DH training) and Jessical Lindell-Vikarby. Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who was sixth in training, 1.33 seconds back behind Italian Johanna Schnarf in fifth (1.19 back) handily won the downhill race in front of an adoring hometown crowd  as Vonn was second and Paerson third in 2010, then Vonn won the SG with Goergl not far back in second and Switzerland’s Nadia Styger third. The German also took bronze medals in both the DH and SG at world champs last year on her home slope. 

The weather forecast is calling for more cold temperatures, but clearer skies and sun for this weekend’s races, which kick off with downhill on Saturday at 10:30 local time and wrap up Sunday with SG.

by Shauna Farnell

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