Viktoria Rebensburg lands double victory at home
OFTERSCHWANG, Germany – Two days. Two victories. The lady’s name is Viktoria Rebensburg.
The competition got stiff in the second run of the World Cup giant slalom in Ofterschwang on Saturday, but Rebensburg kept the green light not just throughout the day, but throughout four runs. Her rampage began on Friday, when she led the first run, then went on to win the race by hundredths of a second.
In the first run on Saturday, the German World Cup and Olympic GS champion saw to it that she had a nice cushion, putting down a lead of more than one second on the entire field besides Anna Fenninger, who was still more than eight-tenths of a second back.
In the second run, however, Lindsey Vonn came into the picture. The American took advantage of the very straight course set by her coach and, in spite of being 1.68 seconds back after the first run, threw herself down the course like it was the last time she’d ever race and crossed the finish line more than a second ahead of the field.
Fenninger couldn’t catch her, nor could Tina Maze. But the downhill-style course set didn’t throw off Rebensburg. Although she lost some time on the bottom of the course, the German crossed the finish line 0.26 seconds ahead of Vonn as Maze rounded out the podium – her third straight in giant slalom – 0.39 seconds back.
“I’ve never won two races in two days before … not even on the Europa Cup,” Rebensburg said. “It’s crazy cool. It was definitely fun, winning yesterday’s race. Today, I couldn’t expect to win it again. I didn’t make a mistake in the first run. I had a good position in the second run. I struggled a little over the last pitch, but it doesn’t matter now. I won again and … I can’t describe it in words.”
Vonn had an incident in the first run. She hit her face on a gate, knocking her goggles aside so she was partially blinded for the lower half of the run. With more than a second and a half to make up in the second run, she fired down the top of the course taking an extremely direct line and flew over the roll in the middle with so much speed she teetered up on one ski in order to crank the turn around the next gate – one that many racers who carried speed on the top of the course missed. She crossed the finish line with a lead she has only ever had in a speed race, notching her second GS podium of the season following her win in Soelden, and just the third of her World Cup GS career. In the finish area, even the medical crews turned to each other nodding their heads and murmuring, "respect."
“This is only my third career giant slalom podium. I’m really excited about today’s result. I’m really proud of the way I skied the second run,” Vonn said. “I was almost 1.70 behind Vicki after the first run so in the second, I went for the most direct line possible and risked a lot and was able to make up a lot of time. I was thinking I could maybe get the win, but Vicki was just too strong today.”
As the snow on the public slopes around the race course in Ofterschwang turned to mashed potatoes once again on Saturday, racers stripped down to sleeveless tops in the hot sun in the finish area and even during second-run inspection but the course – treated with more than six tons of salt – remained miraculously solid.
Nonetheless, many racers struggled – particularly over that roll in the middle of the course. Most notable of these was Tessa Worley, who came to Ofterschwang leading the GS standings having won the previous two races – but will leave with the nearly impossible task of getting the globe back from Rebensburg, trailing her 490-346 in the points with just two more GS races left.
In run No. 1 on Saturday, Worley, who was seventh on Friday, got more air than she expected over the midway roll and nearly crashed. She managed to finish the run but lost so much time she didn’t qualify for run No. 2.
“I’m very angry with myself,” she said. “I didn’t think I would arrive that fast [at the roll] and that I would jump that much. It wasn’t a great weekend for me. I don’t have any doubts about my skiing today, it’s just tactics. I wasn’t very smart at the top up there. In the next races, I just have to stay strong and focused on my skiing.”
Vonn, who now leads the overall standings with 1708 points, untouchable to anybody but Maze, who has 1214, also moves up to second in the GS standings with 355 points.
Maria Hoefl-Riesch has not had a good run of things in Ofterschwang so far this weekend. After sliding out in the first run on Friday, she made it to the second run with rather conservative skiing on Saturday, only to miss the gate after the roll, tallying her second straight DNF. Others who went out at the exact same place in the second run included Julia Mancuso – who was in the lead on the top of the course and also Tina Weirather.
After her amazing performance on Friday, skiing from start No. 57 to sixth place, Italian Nadia Fanchini slid out in the first run Saturday, as did teammate and world champion silver medalist Federica Brignone.
Fenninger ended up fourth, a mere hundredth of a second off the podium and 0.40 behind Vonn, and Tanja Poutiainen notched the best GS result of her season so far in fifth, 0.83 seconds back. After landing her first career Cup podium on Friday, Irene Curtoni approached the day with fresh verve and notched the second best result of her career with sixth place Saturday, 1.39 seconds back. Sweden’s Jessica Lindell-Vikarby had another solid race in seventh, 1.48 seconds back, Elisabeth Goergl ended up eighth, 1.50 back, Taina Barioz pulled off a solid ninth, 1.58 seconds back, and in spite of finishing 23rd after the first run, Italian veteran Denise Karbon skied to 10th, 1.68 seconds back.
The 2012 World Cup race weekend in Ofterschwang wraps up with slalom on Sunday.
by Shauna Farnell