St. Moritz: Dorfmeister tames super G, Americans struggle


St. Moritz: Dorfmeister tames super G, Americans struggleST. MORITZ, Switzerland Following a series of near misses in the speed events at Bad Kleinkircheim, Austria, last weekend, super G standings leader Michaela Dorfmeister got some much needed pay back on her rivals Friday, nuking down the 600-meter vertical drop of St. Moritz’s undulating, sun-splashed Corviglia piste to claim victory in a time of 1:17.20. With retirement just around the corner, the veteran Dorfmeister’s near-perfect run not only makes her the favorite for tomorrow’s downhill, but also solidifies her as one of the women to beat going into next month’s Torino Games.

Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Austria’s Nicole Hosp a slalom specialist and surprise winner of yesterday’s downhill training run rounded out the top three. ‘I like the hill and the snow here. There’s always sun!’ proclaimed a beaming Maze as she gave post-race interviews at the base of the resort’s glimmering, glacial amphitheater.

On a day that saw Dorfmeister demonstrate the same clean arcs and level headed tactics that won her the super G world title here in 2003, a bulk of the field floundered either failing to finish or posting lackluster performances. A typically rock-steady Anja Paerson got back and late after the transition onto the first steep pitch and skied out, while overall World Cup leader Janica Kostelic returning to the site of her ’99 knee injury couldn’t quite tap into her newfound speed psyche of only a week before, finishing a distant 15th.

“The course was maybe set a bit too complicated,” Kostelic told The Associated Press. “When I heard so many girls went out I decided to ski too careful. You all know I am not the bravest girl in the world. But it was the wrong approach. The only really troublesome gate was one on the last pitch near the finish.”

French coach Xavier Fournier set a deceptively difficult course; though primarily straight and fast, several fall-away crankers were hidden on the backside of knolls, catching many of today’s competitors off-guard. The hill’s bottom third, dominated by the ominous ‘Rominger Sprung’ bump, proved particularly tricky and provided a premature exit for many.

‘It was one of the most difficult super G’s I have ever raced’ said Dorfmeister. ‘You really had to balance going fast and being smart. It was very bumpy… You didn’t know how fast you had to get into position, and you had to have perfect timing on the bumps.’

Libby Ludlow, the top American finisher in 12th place, echoed Dorfmeister’s comments. ‘[The course certainly kept] you on your toes. I think it is a good thing to have a lot of terrain because some of our courses are so mellow and easy it actually adds another element that women’s courses generally don’t have very often.’

While Team Austria saturated the top 10 with seven skiers, the U.S. team only managed to squeak three racers past the finish line at all. Following Ludlow, who though happy with her run, wondered if ‘in some places I overskied it [and] could have been a lot better’ were a back-to-full-health Jonna Mendes in 29th and Stacey Cook in 33rd. Cook, a native of Trukee, California, commented on the difficulty of the bottom section of the course: ‘I knew there were some problems down here at the bottom, so I tried to ski the top really aggressively, and then I was too cautious down here. A lot of people were going out and I was just too cautious in those areas and didn’t charge through them.’

U.S. speed-event aces Kirsten Clark and Lindsey Kildow both posted competitive intermediate splits, but failed to navigate around gates on the hill’s trouble spots. Not even the Boss belting out ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ over the Salastrains finish arena’s P.A. could help Kildow, who’s been suffering from an apparent lack of form since her world-beating weekend in Val d’Isere, France, earlier this season.

“It’s just really disappointing,” Kildow said to The Associated Press. “It was my stupid mistake. It was really blind up top. You picked up a lot of speed off that pitch and you don’t want to be out in the powder setting up too much, and you don’t want to go too low otherwise you’re going out. I thought I had the right line but I missed it by a hair.”

Julia Mancuso seemed to be on the most sure-footed tear, cooking the top half of the hill before skiing headfirst into a panel gate and off into the powdery sidelines nearly within sight of the finish.

The Women’s World Cup continues in St. Moritz with tomorrow’s downhill, where 32-year old Dorfmeister will surely seek to add victory number 24 to her illustrious resume.

Women’s super G
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Jan. 20, 2006
1. Michaela Dorfmeister, AUT 1:17.20
2. Tina Maze, SLO 1:17.60
3. Nicole Hosp, AUT 1:17.76
4. Alexandra Meissnitzer, AUT 1:17.77
5. Renate Goetschl, AUT 1:17.79
6. Nadia Styger, SUI 1:17.81
7. Elisabeth Goergl, AUT 1:17.89
8. Kathrin Wilhelm, AUT 1:18.13
9. Ingrid Jacquemod, FRA 1:18.15
10. Silvia Berger, AUT 1:18.20
11. Andrea Fischbacher, AUT 1:18.21
12. Libby Ludlow, USA 1:18.22
13. Emily Brydon, CAN 1:18.27
14. Kelly Vanderbeek, CAN 1:18.38
15. Janica Kostelic, CRO 1:18.40
15. Allison Forsyth, CAN 1:18.40
17. Genevieve Simard, CAN 1:18.56
18. Daniela Ceccarelli, ITA 1:18.76
19. Lucia Recchia, ITA 1:18.76
20. Johanna Schnarf, ITA 1:18.88
21. Angelika Gruener, ITA 1:18.91
22. Carolina Ruiz Castillo, SPA 1:19.14
23. Petra Robnik, SLO 1:19.27
24. Urska Rabic, SLO 1:19.46
25. Daniela Merighetti, ITA 1:18.48
26. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, SWE 1:19.50
27. Martina Ertl-Renz, GER 1:19.61
28. Monika Dumermuth, SUI 1:19.64
29. Jonna Mendes, USA 1:19.66
30. Martina Schild, SUI 1:19.69
Other North Americans:
33. Stacey Cook, USA 1:19.99
36. Sherry Lawrence, CAN 1:20.49
36. Brigitte Acton, CAN 1:20.49
DNF: Bryna McCarty, Caroline Lalive, Julia Mancuso, Kirsten Clark, Lindsey Kildow, Kaylin Richardson, USA.

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

Equipment
Women’s SG, St. Moritz, Jan. 20, 2006
Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1. Dorfmeister, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2. Maze, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
3. Hosp, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
4. Meissnitzer, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
5. Goetschl, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
6. Styger, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7. Goergl, Blizzard/Lange/Marker
8. Wilhelm, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
9. Jacquemod, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
10. Berger, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer

Women’s super G, St. Moritz, Switzerland, Jan. 20, 2006. … It is the 19th event of the women’s 34 race, two combined World Cup schedule. … It is the fifth of eight scheduled super G races. … The second SG in a row. … It is the fifth Cup SG ever held at St. Moritz.

It is the 23rd career victory for Michaela Dorfmeister. … She is third all-time among Austrian women. … It is her ninth career SG win. … That is second all-time among Austrian women. … It is her second win of the season, and her ninth podium. … The other win came in SG at Val d’Isere Dec. 18. … She has made the podium in all five SG’s held, and in four of five downhills. … It is her 82nd scoring result in a SG… 51st top 10. … 24th podium in the discipline.

It is the 11th career podium for Tina Maze. … Her second in SG. … the other a third at San Sicario Feb. 25, 2005. … It is the best Slovene SG result since Mojca Suhadolc won at Lake Louise on Nov. 11, 1999. … It is the third podium of the season for Maze, the other two in GS. … She was first in GS and sixth in SG on her last trip to St. Moritz in Dec. 2004. … She prevented a four-place Austrian sweep.

It is the 19th career World Cup podium for Nicole Hosp. … Her third of the season; each in a different discipline (second Lienz GS, second Lienz SL Dec. 28-29 respectively)
. … Eight of her nine completed races this season are top-seven placings. … She kept Alexandra Meissnitzer off the podium by a hundredth of a second.

It is the fourth-best career result for Libby Ludlow. … Her third-best of the season. … Her top-nine career results are all in SG. … Her scoring results this season are all in SG. … Emily Brydon matched her third-best result of the season. … It is the second-best result of the season for Kelly Vanderbeek after a sixth at Val d’Isere. … It matches her fourth-best career result. … She has a seventh in SG from St. Moritz Dec. 21, 2004. … Allison Forsyth matches her career best in SG from Lake Louise Dec. 5, 2004. Seven of her eight results this season have been in placings between 11th and 17th. … Genevieve Simard matches her sixth-best result of the season. … It is her fourth-best finish of the season in SG. … It is the first scoring result of the season for Jonna Mendes. … Six USA women failed to finish the race.

Dorfmeister closes the gap in the World Cup overall standings. … Janica Kostelic (15th in race) maintains the overall lead 998-830 over Dorfmeister. … Anja Paerson (did not finish) is third at 685. … Lindsey Kildow is the top American at sixth on the standings list with 520 points. … Dorfmeister holds the SG standing lead 420-360 over Alexandra Meissnitzer (fourth in race). … Nadia Styger (sixth in race) is third at 242. … Kirsten Clark is the top American on the SG list in fifth with 163 poionts. … Winning margin was four-tenths of a second. … Tenth place was exactly a full second back. … Top 22 were within two seconds of the winner.

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