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

The SCOOP
by Hank McKee

Women’s World Championship downhill, Schladming, Austria, Feb. 10, 2013
Equipment

Skier, skis/boots/bindings
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.

Medal Count
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)

Results
Schladming (AUT)
FIS World Ski Championships
Ladies’ Downhill

Rank    Name Year Nation Total Time
 1 ROLLAND Marion  1982  FRA   1:50.00
 2 FANCHINI Nadia  1986  ITA   1:50.16
 3 HOEFL-RIESCH Maria  1984  GER   1:50.70
 4 KAMER Nadja  1986  SUI   1:50.74
 5 MANCUSO Julia  1984  USA   1:50.85
 6 COOK Stacey  1984  USA   1:50.91
 7 MAZE Tina  1983  SLO   1:51.21
 8 FISCHBACHER Andrea  1985  AUT   1:51.23
 9 FANCHINI Elena  1985  ITA   1:51.45
 10 GOERGL Elisabeth  1981  AUT   1:51.48
 11 FENNINGER Anna  1989  AUT   1:51.55
 12 SMITH Leanne  1987  USA   1:51.58
 13 WEIRATHER Tina  1989  LIE   1:51.71
 14 MARCHAND-ARVIER Marie  1985  FRA   1:51.74
 15 RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina  1981  SPA   1:51.93
 16 GUT Lara  1991  SUI   1:51.96
 17 MCKENNIS Alice  1989  USA   1:52.03
 18 STERZ Regina  1985  AUT   1:52.05
 19 STUHEC Ilka  1990  SLO   1:52.16
 20 KAUFMANN-ABDERHALDEN Marianne  1986  SUI   1:52.32
 21 SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth  1991  NOR   1:52.36
 22 GOGGIA Sofia  1992  ITA   1:52.85
 23 MIKLOS Edit  1988  HUN   1:53.25
 24 KRIZOVA Klara  1989  CZE   1:53.26
 25 BRODNIK Vanja  1989  SLO   1:53.37
 26 HECTOR Sara  1992  SWE   1:53.38
 27 MOWINCKEL Ragnhild  1992  NOR   1:53.67
 28 YURKIW Larisa  1988  CAN   1:53.69
 29 COLETTI Alexandra  1983  MON   1:54.01
 30 YAKOVISHINA Elena  1992  RUS   1:54.93
 31 KEDRINA Anastasia  1992  RUS   1:55.03
 32 BEDAREVA Maria  1992  RUS   1:55.91
 33 SMALL Greta  1995  AUS   1:56.12
 34 PROKOPYEVA Aleksandra  1994  RUS   1:56.72
 35 VAN BUYNDER Isabel  1991  BEL   1:57.31
 36 KOMSIC Andrea  1996  CRO   1:59.53
Did not start 1st run
  KIRKOVA Maria  1986  BUL   
Did not finish 1st run
  MERIGHETTI Daniela  1981  ITA   
  GISIN Dominique  1985  SUI   
  HRONEK Veronique  1991  GER   
  MOSER Stefanie  1988  AUT   

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