Women's GS delayed until Thursday; Goergl leads
WHISTLER, B.C. - The "hurry up and wait" weather game became an overnight ordeal Wednesday when a thick fog set in over Franz's Run in Whistler and the second run of the ladies Olympic giant slalom race was delayed four times, then finally postponed until 9:30 a.m. local time on Thursday.
"We started discussions based on [knowing] it would be a difficult day today. We know that it will be a similar difficult day tomorrow," said FIS women's race director Atle Skaardal. "We're quite lucky we were able to do a good and fair first run. Due to the weather change, we were not able to pull off a second run. The jury was unanimous in it's decision. Nobody thought it would be fair to cancel the first run. The right decision would be to postpone the second run and do a fair and good [second run only] tomorrow."
Austrian Elisabeth Goergl, charging after her Olympic downhill bronze medal and fifth place in the super G, leads by 0.02 seconds going into the second run, followed by French tech specialist Taina Barioz, who landed on her first World Cup podium in the Lienz GS in December and Austrian tech superstar Kathrin Zettel, who is sitting in third place, 0.16 back.
The race is tight, with the top seven finishers - Eva-Maria Brem (AUT), Tina Maze (SLO), Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) and Maria Riesch (GER) - all within a half-second of each other going into the second run.
A wet snow fell during the first run, during which there was also a thick fog though racers said visibility was not too bad on the open and somewhat easy course set by Germany's Christian Schwaiger.
"It's not that bad [as] it looks," said Rebensburg, who was the second racer on course. "There's fog in the upper part, but it's OK. You can see the ground from top to bottom. The bottom is pretty soft, warmer than the top."
Tanja Poutiainen, who started No. 3 and is sitting in 13th place and 1.04 seconds out going into the second run, said the weather was making the somewhat flat course even slower.
"It is really just a normal GS," she said. "I liked it, it was really nothing special, except for sure, it's not fast."
Anja Paerson's father - Anders Paerson, will set the course for Thursday's second run.
Anja Paerson, who finished 12th, 0.89 seconds back in the first run said she is still recovering from her aches and pains following her big crash in the Olympic downhill race last week. But she feels she is still in striking distance for a medal Thursday.
"My legs are still not working at a hundred percent," she said. "I am hanging in there. I think the men's GS run yesterday shows you can do it. I am going to give it everything I have."
Of the 86 athletes starting the race Wednesday, 17 didn't finish their runs. Most notable among these was Lindsey Vonn, who crashed just before the third interval and fractured the pinkie finger in her right hand. Her coaches say she is still planning on starting in Friday's slalom.
- by Shauna Farnell