Goergl wins downhill, Mancuso second
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
BAD KLEINKIRCHHEIM, Austria – Elisabeth Goergl of Austria ended Lindsey Vonn’s four-race unbeaten streak in speed events by winning a World Cup downhill on Saturday.
Goergl, who also beat Vonn to take the world downhill title last year, went down the 2.85-kilometer Kaernten-Franz Klammer course in 1 minute, 48.40 seconds. Julia Mancuso of the United States was second, 0.16 back, and Fabienne Suter of Switzerland was third.
Vonn, who was bothered by a stomach ailment this week, finished fourth and maintained the lead in the downhill and overall World Cup standings. She almost skied out at the second gate and finished 0.55 behind Goergl. Vonn had won both previous downhills and both super G races this season.
It was only the third time in all 20 World Cup downhills since March 2009 that Vonn finished outside the top three.
“It was a rough start. I didn’t have the balance,” said Vonn, who spent most of the day before the race in bed. “I have been sick since Zagreb (last Tuesday) and I have not been able to eat anything, so I don’t have energy and I don’t have strength.”
Mancuso was in the lead until Goergl went down the hill, the last starter from the top group.
“I fought like crazy. I usually feel comfortable on difficult downhills like this one. I am happy that it worked out so well,” Goergl said after her fourth World Cup win but first in downhill. “And being congratulated by Franz Klammer made it even more special.
Mancuso earned her third podium finish of the season with her best downhill result since winning the final race of last season in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
She’s the first American female skier to finish on the podium in Bad Kleinkirchheim since Cindy Nelson finished runner-up to Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Proell in 1978.
“It was really fun, especially the first half,” Mancuso said. “I like it when it’s difficult and when you just have to go fast and go with your instinct. Sometimes it’s not the perfect run, but you can still win.”
Mancuso skipped recent slaloms in Flachau, Austria, and Zagreb, Croatia, to prepare for the speed events.
Mancuso said the first steep section of the course with two sharp turns, where Vonn skied off course, were decisive.
“Out of the start is very difficult because it’s hard to get enough direction for that second gate,” Mancuso said. “How technical those first three gates are, it really makes up the difference what speed you can carry.”
Vonn was thrown wide at that first turn and the three-time overall champion knew she had lost the chance for a third straight downhill victory. But she still made up some of the lost time, despite being weakened by the stomach ailment.
“Last night was the first time I had something different than soup and bread – a little rice and a little bit of fish,” Vonn said. “I just can’t seem to eat anything of any substance, so it’s hard to get energy if you don’t eat anything.”
In the overall standings, Vonn has 691 points, followed by Austria’s Marlies Schild with 540 and Goergl with 405.
Defending overall champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany skipped the event because of the flu, leaving her 365 points behind Vonn.
The race took place under excellent, sunny conditions, one day after fierce wind had blown away sections of the safety netting along the course and forced organizers to cancel the final training.
That left most of the racers with only one pre-race run on a course that hadn’t been included in the women’s World Cup schedule since 2006.
A super G on the same course is scheduled for Sunday.
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There might be part of Hailey Swirbul that is finally beginning to believe she belongs. The 22-year-old cross-country skier is coming off quite a stretch with the U.S. ski team, one that includes her first career World Cup podium and a successful go in the notorious Tour de Ski stage race.