Vonn leads final downhill training in sunny Sochi

17 February 2012 10:31

SOCHI, Russia – It couldn’t have been a more spectacular day Friday on the slopes of Rosa Khutor, the resort hosting the 2014 Olympic ski races. After receiving about 20 centimeters of fresh snow and a veil of fog throughout the day Thursday, the sun was shining to kick off the final downhill training in Sochi. Although she stood up before she crossed the finish line, Lindsey Vonn’s training time was well over a second faster than anyone else’s – two seconds faster than all but four other athletes.

“I really like the track here. It’s unique … it has a bit of everything. I feel good about my run,” said Vonn, who was the main attraction in a special press conference following Friday’s training, during which she was lavished with attention and given her first “medal” from Sochi in preparation for Games in two years time.

“I wouldn’t mind having Sochi as a regular stop on the World Cup,” Vonn said. “The mountains here are beautiful and it’s a course you really can’t compare to anything else on the World Cup.”

There were some small mishaps in training Friday. Vonn put down her run in 1 minute, 49.21 seconds and Tina Maze was the closest to her, 1.27 behind, but after she crossed the finish line, Maze collided with the cameraman and left the finish area upset and holding her head. She later went to the hospital to be checked out.

Also, Lara Gut ended up second to last after blasting around a technical right footer and – rather than missing the tricky gate there like so many other racers – lost control around it, hitting her arm on the snow (*NOT * on the gate as originally reported) and throwing back her shoulder but managing to stay on her feet. Still, she crossed the finish line holding her shoulder. She said she would be OK with some ice and pain treatment.

The training functioned as the only legitimate trial down the Rosa Khutor course for the ladies, as the new snow and fog canceled Thursday’s training and the first training Wednesday was met with warm temperatures and strong wind, which necessitated that racers put on the brakes over the two big jumps on the course. (See the story from the first training run here).

World downhill and super G champion Elisabeth Goergl was third fastest in Friday’s training, crossing the line 1.49 seconds behind Vonn. Next in line came France’s Marion Pellissier, fourth fastest and 1.70 seconds back. Norway’s Lotte Smiseth Sejersted had another fast training run (she was third fastest on Wednesday), fifth fastest on Friday, 1.98 seconds back, the only other racer to finish within two seconds of Vonn.

By the last racer on course Friday, the sunny sky was replaced with clouds and the forecast for the weekend is calling for more clouds and light snow. Racing kicks off with downhill on Saturday at 13:00 local time.

Go here to hear what Vonn and several other racers have to say about the Sochi course.

Go here for Friday's full training results.