France's Rolland picks up first career win at World Champs DH, while Americans fall short
SCHLADMING, Austria — The 2013 downhill World Championships were won and lost in the "Schladming S" — a twisty, windy section more than halfway down the course. Ski it flawlessly and you can carry speed across the lower traverse, down into the finish stadium. Make a mistake or two and you'll feel the effects for the rest of your run.
France's Marion Rolland, running 22nd and finishing with a time of 1 minute, 50.00 seconds, was able to execute this crucial part of the course better than everyone else. She toppled early frontrunner Nadia Fanchini, of Italy, who set an example wearing bib. No. 2 and ultimately took home the silver medal, just 0.16 seconds behind the winner's pace. After a podium drought most of the season, Friday's super combined gold medalist, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, proved again she's still got it, skiing a clean run and finishing with the bronze medal.
Rolland has never won a World Cup race, but she did finish second in the World Cup Final in Schladming at the end of last season. Apparently, she likes the hill.
Early in the race, there were three stark reminders of the dangers of downhill racing, as three of the first nine racers — Vernonique Hronek, Stefanie Moser and Dominique Gisin — slid into the netting. Each caused a substantial course delay, but they all managed to ski off the hill. With relatively clear weather, the snow was faster and slicker than it had been in training and many of the girls may have been taken by surprise by their new-found speed.
The U.S. speed team, racing without Lindsey Vonn, but still expected to be formidable, was hoping for better results than what they got Sunday.
Always one to rally for the big events, Julia Mancuso was the top American finisher in fifth. Like many others in the field, she had a sizable lead over then-leader Fanchini on the upper part of the course, but a mistake heading into the S section had her skiing a late line and slower pace.
"It was tough through the S turns and the traverse was where I kinda lost it," said Mancuso. "There's a lot of ice up there and if you're missing your timing just a little, it's just unlucky — you might go down. ... It was really difficult and fast snow. You had to be 100 percent on it. … Of course, I didn't want to make those mistakes, but my downhill is getting better and better. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."
After an excellent training run Saturday, Stacey Cook was the next best American in sixth position. She was up by nearly a second in the top part of the run, but again, struggled through the technical S section.
"I seem to be good thorough the top half of a lot of courses this year," said Cook. "[During the delays], Jules and I actually stayed in the lodge, so we were able to time our start pretty well. We were able to stay calm. We knew there was a lot of crashing going on. … I don't know where I lost it. I'm a little frustrated right now. I'm going to talk to my coaches and figure out where all that time went."
Finishing 12th, Leanne Smith agreed the course was much firmer with a significant amount micro-terrain that gave the girls trouble.
"You had to be on it. I had a couple little bobbles and it cost me," Smith said. "It's not a super difficult course, but with the conditions being the way they are, you have to be perfect. Coming into the left-footer — the beginning of the S turn — there's a couple abrupt bumps in there. I got turned a little bit sideways and that's all your speed for the bottom. … You're hosed for the bottom. You've got nothing coming across the traverse."
Alice McKennis rounded out the American representation in 17th.
"This team is always striving for podiums right now, so in that case, we're a little bit disappointed," said Speed Coach Chip White. "They still are the best downhill team in the world, and that's indisputable."
It was another day of long faces on the Austrian streets of Schladming. With a strong lineup of five (the champion from two year's ago Elisabeth Goergl getting an automatic fifth start), there was once again no representation by the host nation on the podium. Andrea Fischbacher was their best finisher in eighth.
For first time since these Championships began, presumptive World Cup Overall champion Tina Maze fell short of the podium. She made an error heading into the Schladming S and wasn't able to manage better than seventh.
By Geoff Mintz
THIS STORY IS BEING UPDATED — MORE TO COME
by Hank McKee
Women's World Championship downhill, Schladming, Austria, Feb. 10, 2013
1 Rolland, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
2 Fanchini, Dynastar/Lange/Look
3 Hoefl-Riesch, Head/Lange/Head
4 Kamer, Stoeckli/Tecnica/Marker
5 Mancuso, Head/Head/Head
6 Cook, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
8 Fischbacher, Voelkl/Fischer/Marker
9 Fanchini, Dynastar/Lange/Look
10 Goergl, Head/Head/Head
Women's World Championship downhill, Schladming, Austria, Feb. 10, 2013. ... It is the
fifth race of the championships and third for women. ... It is the 66th World Championship downhill, the 33rd for women. ... Elisabeth Goergl is defending champion.
It is the first World Championship medal for Marion Rolland. ... She had not previously won a World Cup, but did place second in DH at Schladming at the end of last season. ... Hers is the third medal of the championships from France, all coming from skiers who had not previously won a World Cup.
It is the second World Championship medal for Nadia Fanchini after a bronze medal in DH at Val d'Isere (2009). ... She owns one World Cup victory, in super G at Lake Louise (Dec. 7, 2008).
It is the fifth World Championship medal for Maria Hoefl-Riesch. ... and the second of these championships having won gold in combined. ... She also won a gold in slalom at Val d'Isere (2009) and bronze in super G and downhill at Garmisch (2011). ... She also owns two Olympic gold medals (combined and slalom 2010).
It is the seventh career World championship top five for Julia Mancuso (plus a Team event). ... but the first in downhill. ... She does have an downhill among her three Olympic medals. ... It is a career best World Championship result for Stacey Cook. ... She was ninth in DH at Val d'Isere (2009). ... It is a career best World Championship result for Leanne Smith besting her SG result from earlier in these championships. ... It is the first World Championship result for Alice McKennis. ... It is the second best of two for Larisa Yurkiw, both from these championships.
FRA - 3- (gold, silver, bronze)
SLO - 2 - (gold, silver)
GER - 2 - (gold, bronze)
NOR - 2 - (gold bronze)
USA - 2 - (gold, bronze)
ITA - 2 - (silver, silver)
SUI - 1 - (silver)
AUT - 1 (bronze)
FIS World Ski Championships
|15||RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina||1981||SPA||1:51.93|
|21||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR||1:52.36|
|35||VAN BUYNDER Isabel||1991||BEL||1:57.31|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|