Mirjam Puchner takes final training run in Lake Louise
Lake Louise, Canada – The 56 racers on the start list were greeted on Thursday by middle clouds and a slightly lower visibility for the second and last downhill training run before race day. Austria came on top of the time sheet again as Mirjam Puchner set the time to beat in 1:52.48, to edge American duo Lindsey Vonn (+0.12) and Stacey Cook (+0.39).
Mirjam Puchner confirmed that the course and conditions suit her well, as she was already fifth in the first training run.
“It was a super training run,” Joachim Puchner's sister said. “I will for sure try to give it all out in tomorrow's race again but without expecting too much and then we'll see what happens.”
Mirjam Puchner's personal best result is a 13th place in St. Moritz downhill in January 2015.
Lindsey Vonn, who struggled with some bumpy terrain in the first training run on Wednesday, is back on track after a much cleaner run and proved she would be battling it out for top honours on race day.
“I just had a different approach today,” said the 31-year-old. “I changed some things in my line that yesterday didn't really pan out for me. But I was happy with my skiing. I definitely can clean up a few sections for tomorrow but in general it was a pretty solid run and I'm just looking forward to my first speed race of the season.”
Vonn won her first ever World Cup race in Lake Louise on 3 December 2004 and has been successful here since then, with a total of 15 victories.
“It's the first speed race of the year so I feel like I'm coming here always with a lot of confidence,” Vonn added. “I've had a lot of success here too so that certainly helps. I just love this hill, it really suits me, it suits my style and I know I can win.”
Vonn's team-mate Stacey Cook has also been successful in the Canadian resort as her only World Cup podium-finishes in her career happened there. She finished second three times.
“The plan with my coaches was to improve every run, so I left a lot of room for improvement yesterday so that I could accomplish that goal," said Cook smiling. "But I just had a little better attitude. I was pretty nervous yesterday, I don’t know why. It was the first World Cup scenario on the new ski company (Stöckli) – it’s good to be nervous though. It means that you’re excited and have a lot of anticipation, and you’re ready.”
“It’s different than the classic downhill that normally is here, so I have to make the adjustments. And that in itself is a challenge and keeps it entertaining because we’ve run this so many times that the old course we could go with our eyes closed but now we have to focus a little bit more. Lindsey skied that terrain really well today, so obviously it hasn’t changed that much. She’s still unbeatable here," Cook said as a final comment.
Competition really starts tomorrow Friday with the first downhill race of the season scheduled for 12:45 local time.
Here are the complete results.