After a three-year break, the ladies’ World Cup tour returns to Zauchensee, in the heart of Ski Amadé, Austria’s largest ski region, with a downhill race scheduled for Saturday and a super combined Sunday. In 2011, Lindsey Vonn was the winner in the downhill and Lara Gut won the super G.
Austria’s Anna Fenninger demonstrated she was already comfortable on the 3005 meter long course, by setting the pace of the opening training run with a time of 1 minute, 48.94 seconds. She was followed by Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who finished 0.28 seconds behind in second place, while Tina Maze took third, 0.61 seconds back. The Slovenian champion however missed a gate in the middle section. World Cup leader Maria Hofl-Riesch who will be looking for a 25th downhill podium on Saturday, took fourth.
Naturally, everyone in Austria hopes that the local hero Anna Fenninger, who came third in 2011, will be able to claim a win on race day.
“I know the hill rather well and my performance today is satisfying,” said Fenninger. “The conditions were actually quite good considering the high temperatures we have at the moment. The snow is compact and held up well. The track will even get better over the next couple of days and we should be able to have great races.”
Lara Gut knows the slope as well, since she earned her first medal during the 2007 FIS Junior World Ski Championships here in Zauchensee, finishing second in the downhill. She was 16 years old at that time.
“It is for sure a challenging hill, but not very technical though,” said the Swiss racer. “If you ski clean and push forward, then it’s fine. If you start having fears, it’s obviously hard to let the skis go.”
The second downhill training start time is set for tomorrow at 11:45 CET (5:45 ET).