Kildow, Lalive top podium
VAL D’ISERE, France – Lindsey Kildow of Vail ignored new snow, gusting winds, shaky conditions and a couple of bobbles Saturday to win her second World Cup downhill. Kildow’s teammate Caroline Lalive of Steamboat Springs was second – the first 1-2 U.S. finish in downhill since Picabo Street and Hilary Lindh did the same in 1994.Officials lowered the start of the race because of the changing visibility and conditions. Kildow, who has won two of the three World Cup downhills this season, led at every checkpoint down the two-kilometer course, winning in 1 minute, 21.91 seconds. The win boosted her to the top of the women’s World Cup downhill standings. Kildow is second in the overall standings with 322 points, trailing Austria’s Michaela Dorfmeister (366), who is second in the downhill standings with 172 points. Lalive was second in 1:22.29, her best result in nearly three years since finishing second in downhill at World Cup Finals in 2002. Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria, who won a giant slalom and super G at Val d’Isere in 1998, was third.”It’s so nice to have Caroline up there on the podium,” Kildow said. “She’s skied so well all summer and fall, and she did so well today.””It’s really great for our team today and really great for me,” added Lalive. “It’s almost four years since I’ve been on the podium. I’ve definitely had some moments when I thought about quitting.”The race was called off after 36 skiers because of swirling wind. Julia Mancuso of Olympic Valley, Calif., finished 12th with teammates Kirsten Clark 21st , Stacey Cook 30th and Bryna McCarty 37th.
Kildow had one bobble when she got into soft snow before the second jump on the course, followed by another miscue at the bottom. She kept attacking, however, and her persistence paid off. “It was pretty special because the weather was so gnarly,” Kildow said. “I kinda surprised myself, too, because I made a couple of mistakes, but I kept my tuck, kept attacking. I got a great course report from Julia and I kept pushing.”
Last season, Kildow finished sixth in the overall standings as the youngest skier in the top 10. She is expected to be a leading downhill contender at the Winter Olympics in Turin.Frustrated with so-so results early in the season, Lalive was visibly relieved when she saw the “2” next to her name and time on the scoreboard. She pumped a fist in the air, rousing the assembled crowd.As she aims for her third Winter Olympics, Lalive said each race has greater impact. She had been 39th and tied for 48th in the first two downhills of the season earlier this month. “After my disappointing finishes in Lake Louise, [Alberta] there was definitely more urgency in wanting to race again,” she said. “I thought, ‘Wow! It’s been a long time coming.’ It’s definitely been worth all the tears and frustration.” U.S. women’s head coach Patrick Riml said Saturday’s win was the perfect antidote for the American women after mediocre results in the three World Cup races on Aspen Mountain last weekend.
“We tell them every day to keep their focus at the start, stay positive,” Riml said. “Obviously, Lindsey and ‘Liner’ [Lalive] were awesome and executed beautifully, but I have to say all the girls did so well. They were outstanding in very hard conditions.” Blowing snow rolled across the Oreiller-Killy course and created soft underfooting. Dozens of course slippers kept running down the course, pushing snow to the side while the start time was pushed back and the start house was lowered to the normal super G start point. Some racers struggled against the wind, snow and poor visibility. Nine did not finish – some crashing spectacularly, others veering off course . A right-ankle injury prevented Austrian Elisabeth Goergl from starting.”It was really on the limit today,” Meissnitzer said. “One of my teammates got hurt, but I don’t think it was too dangerous to race. I’m totally happy I got third.”Meissnitzer has seven top-three finishes at Val d’Isere since winning the super G in 1995.
Anja Paerson of Sweden, the defending overall World Cup champion, said that points should not have been awarded under such conditions.”I couldn’t see the first gate, so I just tried to follow the blue line,” Paerson said. “The problem is there was a lot of snow and you start drifting too much. The conditions were not fair. Maybe we should just have raced for prize money and not points.”Karin Blaser of Austria tumbled spectacularly on her run and clutched her left knee.”It was too dangerous,” she said. “The light is not so bad, but the snow is no good. There was too much snow.”The forecast for Sunday’s super-G is better, although windy conditions are expected.
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A lot of seemingly random things are in short supply these days — including sports officials. Western Slope sporting events at the middle school and high school level are not far from a scenario where officials are absent as the area is in desperate need of officials.