Maria Riesch couldn’t mask her
disappointment in finishing 24th
in the Val d’Isere downhill.
Downhill, Dec. 18
There was more déjà vu on the first DH training day in
Val d’Isere. In the first two World Cup downhills in Lake
Louise, German Maria Riesch took the lead with Vonn
right behind. Heading into France, Riesch had a 145-
point lead on Vonn in the overall standings after playing
runner-up to the American at the end of the last two sea-
sons. Then the pair went 1-2 in the first training run.
Then came the snow.
As athletes and coaches went to bed after the super G
was canceled on Friday, pulling off the next day’s down-
hill looked doubtful. With an all-night effort by the local
course crew, the course was dusted off, groomed top-
to-bottom and ready to go as Saturday dawned sunny,
bitter cold and soft.
Since temperatures were about the same as the train-
ing days, ski technicians could only polish up the setups
they had been running, leaving it to the racers to adapt
to the new soft, groomed surface that blanketed the
course. Though times were comparable to the second
training day, skiers came down talking about how slow
In the No. 20 bib and a new purple and pink spider-web-
covered suit, Vonn hit the course hard. Putting it all on
the line, she had a few bobbles on the top of the course
Swiss Nadja Kamer braves arctic
temperatures to finish second in
the Val d’Isere downhill.
and then locked in her patented smooth style to cruise in
with a 0.68-second advantage on the previous leader.
“The course reports were all that the course was slower,” said Vonn. “I came off the top flat and I was going
quite a bit faster than I had in the previous two training
runs and I caught a lot of air off a roll that I hadn’t in
the training runs, and just got pushed wide on the next
left-footed gate and lost a considerable amount of time.
I didn’t panic, I just tried to keep my speed going and
stay in my tuck as long as I could and make good turns.
I knew if I skied well on the bottom I could make up the
The next racer up was teammate Julia Mancuso, who
was riding a wave of confidence after finishing third in
the Lake Louise super G two weeks earlier. As they had
all morning, the soft conditions clamed another victim as
Mancuso got bogged down in the middle of the course
but persevered to an eighth-place finish — her sixth top-
10 result of the season.
Next up was Riesch who, as expected, put down a consistent run. Unfortunately for Riesch, it was also slow
enough to earn her a season-low 24th place result. “
Actually I had no mistakes. It was a solid run — not perfect
— but I pretty much was on a good line,” Riesch told
Fisalpine.com. “I had no problems. I was just slow.” The
chink in the armor that opened up with her first non-top-
10 result a week earlier in the St. Moritz GS (19th) widened a bit, though she maintained the overall lead by 52
Vonn, who was joined on the podium by Swiss duo
Nadja Kamer (0.68 back) in second and Lara Gut (0.80
back) in third, admitted to thinking Riesch would upset
her again after her early mistakes, but happily snatched
back the red downhill overall leader’s bib. “I’m really
psyched to have the red bib back,” said Vonn, who has
rarely been without the token during the last four years.
“It means a lot.”
Gut’s third-place result marked her first return to a po-