Ruiz Castillo earns first World Cup win in Meribel, first speed victory for Spain, ever
In a dress rehearsal for the 2015 World Cup Final in Meribel, Carolina Ruiz Castillo became the first Spaniard to win a World Cup speed event and the first to win a World Cup race of any kind since María José Rienda won the Hafjell GS in 2006.
Ruiz Castillo eared every hundredth in Saturday's downhill, wearing bib No. 28 and skiing a phenomenal race under optimal conditions to overtake Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who threw down her best downhill performance of the season, second at the end of the day.
Castillo was up by nearly a half second early in the run, but slipped back in the middle part of the course. She crossed the finish line two-tenths quicker than the German to secure her first career World Cup victory. Her previous best result was second in a 2000 GS at Sestriere, and she hadn't cracked the downhill top ten since Cortina in 2009, where she placed seventh.
For Hoefl-Riesch, who got the podium monkey off her back winning gold and bronze in Schladming, looked comfortable in training during the week. The German grabbed the lead at the final split but likely made herself vulnerable with a heavy edge set in the final turns of the race.
This season's presumptive Overall champion Tina Maze, who also had excellent training results earlier in the week, skied a tight line through the section that gave Hoefl-Riesch trouble, but it wasn't enough to claim victory. She finished just off the podium in fourth, 0.28 seconds out.
The fan favorite was certainly Marie Marchand-Arvier, carrying the momentum of the strong French performance in Schladming to hold onto the lead for a nice chunk of the race — until Hoefl-Riesch, wearing bib 20, knocked her out of the leader's box. She ultimately finished third on the day.
It was a less than memorable performance for the American speed team, considered the best in the world. Julia Mancuso, who finished third in Friday's training and tweeted yesterday that she likes the course, lost time gradually throughout her run on the leaders pace. She was the top U.S. finisher in 13th.
Leanne Smith, Alice McKennis and Stacey Cook all had strong upper sections but seemed to lose pace toward the bottom of the course. Smith, at one point, was ahead of the leader's pace, but a couple heavy edge sets killed her momentum and. She finished tied for 14th; Smith wound up 18th, and Cook, who was fifth fastest at the third split made a major mistake toward the bottom and was knocked back to 27th. Laurenne Ross was 35th — not her day.
"This was a race where you had to be super precise," said coach Alex Hoedlmoser. "There wasn't any room for error if you wanted to be on the podium. Jules and Alice skied pretty well through my section and Stacey was really fast, but made a huge mistake and lost all of her speed. This was a tough course to lose speed and almost impossible to get it back.
"We'll have to look at video and see what was going on and see if we can fix it for tomorrow's super combined. It was a beating for us and we're not used to that. Everyone is disappointed."
Story by Geoff Mintz
Photos by GEPA
by Hank McKee
Women's World Cup downhill, Meribel, France, Feb. 23, 2013
1 Ruiz Castillo, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
2 Hoefl-Riesch, Head/Lange/Head
3 Marchand-Arvier, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
4 Maze, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
5 Sterz, Voelkl/Tecnica/Marker
6 Kamer, Stoeckli/Tecnica/Marker
7 Weirather, Atomic/Tecnica/Atomic
8 Merighetti, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
9 Goergl, Head/Head/Head
10 Rolland, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Women's World Cup downhill, Meribel, France, Feb. 23, 2013. ... It is the 53rd race of the 2013 World Cup season. ... the 33rd for women. ... the sixth of eight scheduled downhills. ... It is the seventh World Cup to be held at Meribel and the first downhill since 1991.
It is the first career World Cup win for Carolina Ruiz Castillo. ... And just her second podium. ... Her previous best result was second in GS at Sestriere March 11, 2000. ... He best previous downhill result was seventh at Aspen Dec. 8, 2007. ... It is the 12th World Cup win for Spain and Ruiz Castillo is the fourth Spaniard to claim a win. ... It is the first speed win for Spain.
It is the 70th career World Cup podium for Maria Hoefl-Riesch. ... her fifth of the season including two at World Champs. ... It is her 21st Cup DH podium.
It is the fifth career Cup podium for Marie Marchand-Arvier. ... Her first in her home country. ... It is her first podium of the season, though she had been fourth in two previous downhills (Lake Louise and Val d'Isere).
It is the 16th best result of the season for Julia Mancuso. ... her fifth best in downhill. ... It is the fifth best result of the season for Alice McKennis. ... Ninth best of the season for Leanne Smith (including two World Championship finishes). ... It is the 11th score of the season for Stacey Cook.
Tina Maze (fourth in race) leads the World Cup overall standings 1744-886 over Hoefl-Riesch with 10 races remaining. ... Lindsey Vonn (did not race) is third with 740pts. ... Mikaela Shiffrin (did not race) is sixth with 638pts and Julia Mancuso eighth with 573pts. ... Marie-Michele Gagnon is top Canadian overall in 22nd place with 251pts. ... Vonn leads the downhill standings 340-239 over Maze. ... Stacey Cook is third with 215pts, Alice McKennis fifth with 198 and Leanne Smith ninth with 180pts. ... Austria leads the women's Nations Cup 3674-2847 over the US. ...Germany is third with 2122. ... Canada is ninth with 594pts.
FIS World Cup
Feb. 23, 2013
|1||RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina||1981||SPA||1:42.56|
|14||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR||1:43.50|
|28||AGERER Lisa Magdalena||1991||ITA||1:44.49|
|44||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||1:50.08|
|45||SIMARI BIRKNER Maria Belen||1982||ARG||1:52.26|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|