Women's second training run: No times, Mendes ready for shoot-out


Women’s second training run: No times, Mendes ready for shoot-out{mosimage}Due to high winds at the start of the women’s downhill course, the second training run was postponed half and hour, finally getting under way just after noon. The start was moved down to near the start of the super G race, and because of the impromptu change, timing was not available for the run.

Jonna Mendes noted, ‘If they brought the start (apparatus) down, it would have meant another half hour, at least and we don’t have that kind of time to work with because the wind is supposed to keep increasing.’

Two bamboo poles were placed in the snow a few turns above the jump to designate the start. The informality of the process relieved a certain amount of tension, causing super G winner Anja Paerson to quip that it reminded her of racing when she was little. Canadian Kelly Vanderbeek climbed a few yards above the start and took the liberty of a ‘flying start’ (illegal under most circumstances). American Bryna McCarty said, ‘It was very relaxed. I was chatting with the starter just before I ran.’

Despite the unusual circumstances, the racers took full advantage of only their second look at this course in order to clean up mistakes, and gain familiarity with the one large jump on the course. ‘I was trying to ski clean; ski the line the exact line that I’ll need to be fast. Now is not the time to worry about racing’ said Jonna Mendes of her approach to today’s training run. As for the jump which gave many racers trouble in the first training run, Mendes said, ‘It was filled in a bit so it’s not a kicker any more. We still travel, but it’s not throwing us into the air as much.’

Lindsey Kildow, who took a hard fall at the top of the first training run, was back in action. ‘My back is hurting a little bit. I think I ran over somebody’s binding or something, but I’m okay.’

Kildow fell when the inside edge of her uphill ski caught in the aggressive snow, spinning her around backwards, at which point she tumbled in the fences and a group of photographers. Still seeking a comfortable degree of sharpness on her edges, Kildow’s service team might have erred on the side of caution. Kildow said, ‘My skis weren’t very sharp and I couldn’t ski the way I wanted to, but they (her servicemen) were worried that they were too sharp for the first training run, but today was fine.

As for rebounding after her disappointing ninth place result in the super G race, Kildow said, ‘After yesterday I talked to mom and my grandmother a little bit to try to cheer me up and give me motivation. I took yesterday to wash everything out of my mind. But I’ve crashed lots before, it’s nothing new. Nothing’s changed, so I’m going to go out there and do it.’

Kildow’s on the road roommate, Mendes noted that Kildow might just be being too hard on herself. ‘One thing she doesn’t have on her side is experience’ said Mendes. ‘She hasn’t raced in a lot of World Championships and Olympics, and she doesn’t understand that a ninth in a World Championships is darn good. She didn’t ski as well as she wanted there’s no denying it, but she still ended up ninth. She should look at that as a positive for her skiing. It’s amazing when you can have an average to mediocre run and still be in the top 10; that’s damn impressive.’

According to Mendes, Kildow’s disappointment can work for her or against her. ‘It can be an advantage if she gets mad and just fires one in there, and maybe gets that podium that she wants and deserves’ said Mendes. ‘It could also be a disadvantage if she gets in the starting gate and says to herself, ‘I didn’t do it the other day and I have to do it now.’ That works against you; you can’t get in the starting gate and be thinking about numbers. You have to ski your best and take what comes.’

As supportive as Mendes is, she can’t be too concerned with Kildow’s well being. She has a battle of her own to fight. The times of Thursday’s final training run will determine whether she or her teammate, Bryna McCarty will be starting in the Championship downhill race. ‘I’m just hoping tomorrow (final training run) works out for me’ said Mendes. ‘I’m not used to racing in training runs and I’m not used to going up against another teammate, which is kind of uncomfortable I don’t like it. But I put myself in that position by not qualifying straight out for the team. I hope that I get in there, because I feel I could really do something great.’

The casual atmosphere of the un-timed training run was interrupted when French racer, Marie Marchand Arvier caught an edge and slammed into the netting on the bottom portion of the course. She was taken to the hospital in Sondalo by helicopter, where it was determined she had fractured several fingers and bones in her hand. She will return to France immediately.

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