Vonn wins again after the waiting game in Austria

09 January 2010 17:01

World Cup speed skiers are no strangers to the "hurry up and wait" game." But in spite of a thick fog that led to three delayed starts and a significantly shortened downhill course, Lindsey Vonn found the winning formula again in the Audi FIS World Cup in Haus im Ennstal, Austria, on Saturday.

Swiss skier Nadja Kamer wasn't far behind - just .14 seconds - for her first career World Cup podium and Ingrid Jacquemod is proving that she has returned to top form, too, landing in third, just .16 seconds behind Vonn, for her second podium this season.

Any racer will tell you that downhill is as much a mental game as a physical one ... if not more so. So when faced with the emotional preparation that always comes before a race and the usual routine, waiting two hours longer than expected can present another challenge for some skiers ... although others are up for it.

"In downhill, it happens," Jacquemod said. "But I like different challenges. When we have to wait in the restaurant and they say every 30 minutes that it will be delayed we know that we have to stay calm and stay focused and not lose too much energy."

Luckily there was a warm place to wait at the top of the Haus course. Watching the men's World Cup race in Adelboden provided a sort of mental sanctuary for Vonn and other racers.

"Thankfully there was the men's race was on, so we watched that," said Vonn, who has now won five straight downhills and has 27 World Cup victories. "I was trying to stay as loose as I could, trying not to get too anxious about when we're going to start or if we're going to start. I just waited until the start was confirmed. Once that happened, I started getting into my routine. It just helped. Otherwise it's too much of a worrying game."

Many speed skiers carry books with them for a distraction when they know the race might be delayed or canceled. Others listen to music.

"You sit and read a book or just have your snacks and every now and then you go out for a run," said Canadian Britt Janyk, who was 10th on Saturday. "It's part of the game. But it's really easy to sit inside and get too warm and too lazy. Maybe some girls can sit in there and be fine. It's all individual. You just know what you need. I forgot my book today but I had my music and Scrabble on my iPhone."

The waiting game doesn't bother some racers at all. Switzerland's Andrea Dettling (15th in the race) welcomes it as an opportunity to get to know other racers.

"It really doesn't affect me much as long as you know like a half hour before the start. That's enough time for me to refocus," Dettling said. "The waiting ... you get used to it. This morning I had a nice chat with some girls. You just get to know each other a little bit better. You sit in the restaurant because today wasn't a good day to free ski. So it was fun. You get to know each other a little bit better."

by Shauna Farnell