ALPINE SKI WORLD CUP. CHAMONIX, FRANCE - Downhill training began under sunny skies in Chamonix on Thursday early afternoon with Klaus Kroell clocking the fastest time on the La Verte des Houches piste. The 30-year-old Austrian – who claimed top honors two weekends ago at the Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen, Switzerland - completed the 3370-meter course in 2:02.53.
Kroell’s time was 0.04 seconds faster than his countryman Georg Streitberger. Italy’s Christof Innerhofer was third 0.10 back, while Hannes Reichelt was fourth, + 0.14, placing three Austrians among the top four.
Thursday’s training session was interrupted for more than 20-minutes following a crash by Mario Scheiber at the Bosse du Covagnet passage approaching the lower section of the course. The Austrian skier lost consciousness for two-to-three minutes upon hitting the ground. Immediately attended to after having regained consciousness, Scheiber received a perfusion on the spot and was evacuated by helicopter on the spot to a hospital in Sallanches to undergo further medical treatment.
“Mario Scheiber broke his right collarbone. In addition, he has sustained a broken nose and a nasal sinus fracture. The good news is that no bleeding in the brain occurred. The spine, the skull-bones and arms and legs are fine. He is alert and his condition is stable. He will spend the night in the hospital for further observation,” said team physician Dr. Martin Gruber.
“It’s not easy for us with Mario’s crash,” said Kroell, having skied just two positions before Scheiber. “We hope it’s not too bad for him.”
Yannick Bertrand was the top French skier Thursday finishing fifth, just 0.28 seconds behind Kroell. Bertrand’s teammate, Adrien Theaux, who carries the momentum of a third-place finish at last weekend’s Hahnenkamm downhill was tenth, +0.67.
“I’m so happy to be here in France, I like the snow, I like the track,” said Bertrand, who is from Thonon-les-Bains, about an hour from Chamonix. “For me, a top ten on Saturday would be great and then I’ll be very confident for the World Championships.”
“The snow is very good and the course is smooth and nice, but I think it will be bumpy Saturday after two days of training,” said Theaux. “It’s nice to be home.”
Overall World Cup leader, Ivica Kostelic, posted a solid time of 2:03.11, which placed him seventh, 0.58 behind Kroell.
Saturday and Sunday mark the first time that the Kandahar Races are taking place in Chamonix since 2008. American Marco Sullivan won the downhill, while teammate Bode Miller took the super combined three seasons ago. Neither U.S. racer is competing this weekend.
Training run two is scheduled for noon tomorrow, with the Kandahar downhill at the same time on Saturday. On Sunday, racers will compete in a super combined.
Thursday 27 January 2011
Anja Paerson fastest in first Sestriere training
SESTRIERE, Italy – Though she said she was simply “trying out” a line and a new pair of skis, Anja Paerson laid down a very fast first training run in Sestriere on Thursday. On the men’s Olympic speed course from 2006, the Swede, who was third in the Olympic combined event here and won the slalom, has six podiums in World Cup technical events on this hill (the last time the women’s tour stopped here was 2008). She finished in 1 minute, 41.44 seconds on Thursday.
Tina Maze was next in line, but was a significant 1.05 seconds back and Lindsey Vonn, who did her usual “mind game” routine of standing up before crossing the finish line, was third fastest, 1.28 seconds back.
“It’s pretty big gliding turns. I’m strong in that. I missed the line a couple of times, still I was skiing it smooth,” Paerson said. “The snow was super aggressive, so I overskied it at some parts but it seems to be fast. I did a good run – not good enough for Saturday. The jumps are beautiful. The first jump is really fun to ski. From the top it looks like you’re going to take off big, but you just go over the roller and land smooth.”
When asked how much she was giving for her training run – on skis she hadn’t tried before – Paerson didn’t admit if she was charging full steam.
“I did a smooth run. Hopefully I can keep doing that. Just checking the line, ski it good and clean. That’s it,” she said.
Maze said she felt a little “off” but conditions were “nice.”
“I felt a little weird,” she said. “But the jumps were good. Mostly it was good.”
Vonn, who has had a swollen left knee since a near crash in last Saturday’s downhill race in Cortina d’Ampezzo and took a couple days off the snow to relax, said the swelling is going down and the knee is feeling much better.
“I had a couple days off and it was much needed,” she said, adding that the Sestriere course was in perfect shape. “I really liked it. The snow is really buff. The speeds weren’t that high but it was nice. Nice, loopy turns. The whole thing was really fun. The jumps were pretty big but the landings were nice. It was really smooth.”
Keeping her cards close to her chest, Vonn, who won the 2008 downhill race in Sestriere, stood up before crossing the finish line so as not to let her competitors know how fast she could really ski the course.
“I usually stand up,” she said. “You don’t want to give too much time but you also don’t want to let people know what your real race time is. It’s a little mind game action. It never really works. You can pretty much see my split times anyway. It’s just something I do. It’s just a habit. I don’t know if it really makes a difference. But there’s tactics behind everything … always gotta be thinking ahead.”
A thick fog met racers for their morning inspection Thursday but it had dissipated by training time. The start was delayed a half hour in order to paint the course after the fog lifted and shave down one of the jumps. The sun was shining by the time training got underway.
The overall consensus from racers was very positive regarding the course.
“It was smooth. Nice, big turns,” said Germany’s Gina Stechert, who was 29th in training and missed a gate at the top of the course. “The jumps are really big, but they feel OK. The landings are good. They are fun.”
France’s Marie Marchand-Arvier was fourth fastest in training, 1.39 seconds off of Paerson’s lead time. Then came Switzerland’s Fraenzi Aufdenblatten, 1.57 seconds back, Ingrid Jacquemod, 1.80 seconds back and, wearing bib No. 38, Italian Francesca Marsaglia, 1.90 seconds back. Dominique Gisin was eighth fastest, 1.95 seconds back and Austrian Regina Mader ninth, 1.96 seconds back. World Cup overall leader and winner of the last downhill in Cortina on Saturday, Maria Riesch was 10th in Thursday’s training, 2.03 seconds off the lead time.
Foggy weather is in the forecast for the second training Friday, which begins at 10:30 a.m. The downhill in Sestriere kicks off Saturday with super-combined on Sunday.
by Shauna Farnell
Thursday 27 January 2011