BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Athletes around the world are told to race just like they train. Switzerland’s Lara Gut and Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather took that advice to heart in the opening downhill race of the 2013-14 season and the debut of the Raptor course at Beaver Creek.
Gut again demonstrated her mastery of the very technical hill and her dominance over the field Friday, topping the day’s second fastest effort of Weirather by nearly half a second. For Gut, it’s her second win of the season and another major statement.
After the race, she said it wasn’t her best skiing of the week, but it was enough for the win thanks to mistakes by her competition.
“Of course, I had good training runs, but you can always make mistakes,” said Gut after the win. “It didn’t want to do that today. That would be a bit stupid. I could do it yesterday and I tried to do the same today. It didn’t happen. I tried to be clean on my skis, but we worked it out. Tina (Weirather) made a few mistakes too, so it was easy for me to win.”
The racers appeared to be having a tougher time all around on Friday. Most said the course was bumpier and icier, which led to chattery conditions and defensive skiing by many on the pitch.
Weirather, who came into the race with good momentum after several top-three results in training, agreed that the course was bit rougher, but she was still able to “handle the Raptor. … I think it’s not a very good course to take all the risk you can because there are many parts where you can do a lot of stupid things because there is a lot of terrain in the downhill. Find the balance between attacking and still keeping the line. You can’t do any mistakes, otherwise you are out of the course.”
Elena Fanchini picked a good time to ski her best run of the week. The Italian rounded out the podium in third.
“Of course, this is a great result for me,” Fanchini said through translation. “I usually have a great start of the season at Lake Louise, where I have already won a race. It’s a very challenging course and I was not skiing so well in the training runs, so I was not really expecting it.”
Results for the U.S. speed team, which rarely gets an opportunity to race on home snow, were disappointing compared to their performances earlier in the week. Stacey Cook, who won a training run on Wednesday, was the top American finisher in 19th.
“It was a rough day for sure,” said Cook. “It’s really hard when you get to new courses like this to figure it out, especially when it’s changing day to day. I did not execute my plan today. I’m not really sure what went wrong. We’ll have to go back and look and regroup and get ready for the rest of the season.”
Cook had a healthy lead on the upper section of the course but lost her line through a series of hard right-footed turns. Julia Mancuso and Laurenne Ross had similar difficulties and finished 20th and 22nd, respectively.
“It’s unfortunate that it is on home turf. We really wanted to represent our team well for the home crowd,” added Cook.
Leanne Smith, who got progressively faster in training runs this week, seemingly poised for a strong performance on race day, lost focus on the lower flat section, called Peregrine Runout, caught an edge and slipped off course. She skied down uninjured after failing to finish the run. It wasn’t her best performance on the upper part of the track either, where she missed the line on a couple crucial turns.
Under sunny skies, course conditions were a factor, the Americans said. It was bumpier than in previous days
“I don’t know if our plan took the bumps into account,” said Cook. “You want to be aggressive you want to stick to the tight line, but I think some of the girls that are going around the bumps, taking a little more cautious line are actually carrying more speed.”
“I’m glad I’m down and alive,” said Ross. “It was tough. It was bumpy. It was icier than it has been. There were more ruts than (there have) been. It was just really, really challenging. It was really tough to stay on line and tough to stay in a good position.”
Julia Mancuso switched to a new pair of boots this season. She said her setup in super G is working well; downhill is another story.
“Sometimes it matters with equipment,” said Mancuso. “You just have to keep going for it and I don’t really know how to make it different. (I’m) hoping that with runs, you can sort of figure things out and as the season goes on I hope to improve.”
The only Canadian skier in the race, Larisa Yurkiw, failed to complete the course.
By Hank McKee
Women’s Downhill, Beaver Creek, Colo., Nov. 29 2013
Equipment (skier, skis/boots/bindings)
1 Gut, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
2 Weirather, Atomic/Tecnica/Atomic
3 Fanchini, Dynastar/Lange/Look
4 Suter, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
6 Aufdenblatten, Stoeckli/Lange/Atomic
Women’s Downhill, Beaver Creek, Colo., Nov. 29, 2013. … It is the third of 32 races on the women’s World Cup schedule. … The first of nine scheduled downhills. … It is the 18th World Cup downhill hosted by Beaver Creek, the first for women. … It is the first race held on the new Raptor speed course built for next season’s World Championships. …
It is the fifth career World Cup victory for Lara Gut… her second of the season after claiming the GS at Soelden Oct. 26. … It is her second downhill win after collecting the Val d’sere DH Dec. 14.2012.
It is the eighth career World Cup podium for Tina Weirather, matching her career best DH result from Lake Louise last Dec. 2.
It is the second career World Cup podium result for Elena Fanchini, the previous a win at Lake Louise Dec. 2, 2005.
It is the 38th career World Cup top 20 for Stacey Cook. … The 208th top 20 for Julia Mancuso. … Laurenne Ross matches her 27th best World Cup finish. … It was the first World Cup start for Jacqueline Wiles… she finished 43rd.
Gut takes the lead of the World Cup overall standings from Mikaela Shiffrin (did not race) 200-140. … Weirather is third with 125pts. … Marie Michele Gagnon (did not race) is the top Canadian in eighth with 71pts.
Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup 460-411 over Switzerland… Germany is third with 295pts. … The U.S. is fifth with 176pts and Canada 10th with 95pts.
Results – Women’s downhill at Beaver Creek, Colo., Nov. 29, 2013
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|33||9||495318||RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina||1981||SPA||1:44.65||45.87|
|36||6||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR||1:44.80||47.89|
|37||45||298084||AGERER Lisa Magdalena||1991||ITA||1:44.98||50.33|
|54||59||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||1:49.17||107.02|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|