Riesch beats Vonn at Lake Louise

DANIEL AUSTIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:54 PM ET

LAKE LOUISE — If there was any worry that women’s alpine skiing’s most enduring rivalry was coming to an end, Germany skier Maria Riesch and American Lindsey Vonn erased it Friday afternoon by claiming the top two places in the ladies downhill at the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup.

Riesch secured her 15th World Cup career victory with at time of 1:28.96. With the win, she ended Vonn’s streak of five consecutive downhill wins at Lake Louise. Vonn placed second in the event, just 0.12 seconds behind her rival.

“It’s great to start with a win in downhill, and to beat Lindsey at Lake Louise is a big challenge,” said Riesch. “Somebody said she has seven downhill wins here which is unbelievable. I think half of them, her advantage was more than a second. So yeah, it’s a big challenge to beat her. Beating Lindsey — no matter where — is always special.”

It was Riech’s second career downhill victory at Lake Louise and she was the last skier to win the event, in 2007, before Vonn’s streak. But with a second ladies downhill event scheduled for Saturday, Riech said she needed to look at why she lost time at the bottom of the course if she was going to hold off Vonn again.

For Vonn, who has won the last three overall World cup titles, finishing on the podium offered a measure of redemption. After finishing seventh in Thursday’s final training run on a course she’s traditionally dominated, questions arose surrounding her readiness for the World Cup season.

“After the training runs people were doubting whether I was skiing well, but no one wins medals on training runs, they don’t mean anything” Vonn said. “Today was the race and I stepped it up like I knew I could.”

It was a disappointing day for the women on the Canadian Alpine team, with Britt Janyk, from North Vancouver, B.C., the top Canadian finishing in 39th place, 2.99 seconds behind Riesch. Georgia Simmerling, from Vancouver, B.C., finished in 45th, Victoria Stevens, from Mont Tremblant, Que., finished in 46th, and Kelly McBroom from Canmore, AB., finished in 51st.

“I think my run was pretty solid. It’s the same as with the training runs — my runs have been solid but the speed just isn’t there,” Janyk said. “I can feel it in the flats. On this course it’s so important to carry speed into those top flats and then especially at the bottom you can see the girls either take speed or lose speed.”

Before the race, icy conditions forced organizers to shorten the course by almost 150 metres.

“It would’ve been better for me if they’d moved the gate for the training run so we at least had one training run on it, but those kinds of changes are sometimes unexpected,” Vonn said. “They’re trying the best they can to make an adjustment and we have to respect their decisions.”

On Thursday, British racer Chemmy Alcott was airlifted off the mountain and transported to hospital after suffering a broken tibia and fibia after crashing going over a jump. Organizers tried to make the jump smaller, but both Vonn and Riesch said they felt the changes had actually made for more airtime for racers.

“I thought they made the jump less high but they made it even worse. It was really high and really far,” Riech said.


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