Austrian Schmidhofer wins second straight downhill race in Lake Louise
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — Two days ago, Austrian racer Nicole Schmidhofer had no World Cup wins.
Now, she can’t lose.
Schmidhofer captured a second straight downhill Saturday with an even faster run. She finished in 1 minute, 47.68 seconds to hold off teammate Cornelia Huetter by 0.44 seconds.
Michelle Gisin of Switzerland was third, 0.47 seconds back, while two-time overall World Cup winner Mikaela Shiffrin wound up fourth.
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“It’s unbelievable for me,” the 29-year-old Schmidhofer said. “I’m excited and a little bit surprised that I started the season so great.”
Schmidhofer was nearly a half-second faster than she was the day before. It didn’t always feel that way on the course, she said.
“Yesterday was dark and more bumpy. Today, too easy — the line was too easy and not so fast,” she explained. “It was fast enough.”
After finishing ninth Friday, Shiffrin moved up to fourth. Shiffrin won a World Cup downhill at the venue a season ago. She’s still trying to get up to speed in the downhill.
“After last year, I know how it’s supposed to feel,” Shiffrin said. “That doesn’t mean that I can do it every time, but at least I know how it’s supposed to feel.
“Today’s race versus yesterday’s race, it was a lot closer to that feeling of attacking and letting my skis run. That doesn’t always guarantee a win or even a podium, but it does guarantee that I’m making progress and getting better on my speed skis.”
Lindsey Vonn skipped the speed races to recover from a training crash that injured her knee. Although she planned to retire after the season, Vonn recently posted that she intends to race at Lake Louise next season. It’s her favorite venue.
Before this weekend, Schmidhofer’s best World Cup finish was second in a super-G race on Jan. 20, 2013, in Italy. She won the super-G at the 2017 world championships.
“I’m really happy,” she said.
Huetter studied a video of Schmidhofer’s run from Friday and tried to replicate it.
“I was a little bit too late in the first gate,” Huetter said. “It took the speed with me. The rest of the track was really good. I skied much better than yesterday.”
Gisin was on the podium once again. She was second the day before.
“I’m so excited and I hope I can take the flow with me and keep going,” Gisin said.
The speed races at Lake Louise close with a super-G Sunday.
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Herman is the freestyle skiing winner of the Summit Daily’s Peak Performers project, which honors the greatest athletes and most influential figures in Summit county ski and snowboard history.