Mikaela Shiffrin scores first downhill win
American, 22, a slalom specialist
Lindsey Vonn 12th
She had been expected to add to her Lake Louise legend, but Lindsey Vonn crashed in the women’s World Cup downhill opener as Mikaela Shiffrin scored her first podium in the speed event Friday.
The 33-year-old Vonn has won 18 World Cup races at the Alberta resort, often nicknamed “Lake Lindsey” because of her prowess, but she caught an edge in the Claire’s Corner section while leading and careered into safety netting.
Shiffrin triumphed in one minute 27.55 seconds to beat Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg by 0.13 seconds with Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin (1:27.72) third.
Lindsey Vonn, who crashed in Friday’s Lake Louise downhill, skied with a brace on her right knee and finished tied 12th.
Shiffrin, the World Cup overall winner last season, was competing in just her fourth World Cup downhill race. Of her previous 32 World Cup wins, 26 have come in slalom.
The start was delayed by more than an hour because of a power outage, meaning racers had to ride snowcats or be towed to the top of a shortened course.
“Shortening the distance was definitely an advantage to me because the top section it’s flat and I’m not as good up there,” she told the FIS Alpine website.
’But from where we started most of the way down it’s fairly technical and I felt really good about that yesterday so I took even a little bit more risk today and it paid off, just barely. But I also had really good light and some of those other girls had fog and it was really dark.
“I definitely know I was lucky today and yesterday but I skied well and I took some risk and it was fun.”
Shiffrin’s growing prowess at the speed events suggests there is a chance she might add these to her schedule at the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.
“It’s not a 100% ‘no’ but skiing in five events is maybe a little bit ambitious,” she added. “My priority is slalom and giant slalom then the combined then downhill and super-G. Long story short, probably no.”
Rebensburg won the first two giant slalom races of the season, while Gisin clinched only her second ever World Cup podium spot and first in downhill.
The women will contest a super-G on the same mountain Sunday.
The 22-year-old Shiffrin won Olympic slalom gold in Sochi in 2014 and clinched the last three World Championships in the technical discipline. Of her 32 World Cup wins, 26 have come in slalom.
The men’s circuit was in Beaver Creek, Colorado, where Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr clinched his first ever World Cup win with victory in a super-G on the Birds of Prey course.
Svindal, the 2010 Olympic super-G champion, tied for sixth in Friday’s super-G but laid down an impressive time from start No.1 to beat Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the downhill opener in Lake Louise last week.
German Thomas Dressen claimed his maiden World Cup podium with third place at Beaver Creek.
It was Svindal’s 13th downhill triumph and 33rd World Cup victory, the first since he won the super-G in Kitzbuehel in January 2016.
“I haven’t won a race in a while so it was nice to feel the excitement of being in the leader box again,” Svindal told reporters.
Aksel Lund Svindal, the 2010 Olympic super-G champion, tied for sixth with Olympic downhill champion Matthias Mayer as he eases back into competition following knee surgery last year.
The men will race a downhill Saturday and giant slalom Sunday.