Whoever decided where to put the Tirol Berg Haus knew what they were doing. The giant
hospitality tent erected for hosting Austrian and Italian athletes and supporters sat just behind
the medals stage in a park in the middle of town. The “bouncy house,” as it came to be called,
featured cushy, white-lambskin covered seats and long tables piled with free booze, cured
meats and cheeses under a canopy of tiny white lights. And bounce it did as Austrian women
were toasted throughout the event.
After Austrian Elizabeth Goergl opened the show with her super G gold, she stayed hot on the
Kandahar course with the top time in the downhill portion of the super combined. Giving chase,
just under three-tenths of a second behind, was Swiss Dominique Gisin and Swede Anja Paerson.
For the slalom, competition traveled across town to the Gudiberg slope above the Olympic
Ski Stadium, which was built by Adolf Hitler in 1939 in preparation for the 1940 Games — an
event that had three temporary homes before being canceled at the onset of World War II. The
old stadium’s center now served as fan town, filled with a Milka chocolate trailer, a beer garden
and a double-decker VIP tent. Munich 2018 banners and mini hot air balloons promoting the
candidate city’s bid, along with a shiny new Audi perched atop the new, space-age suspended
ski jump structure, gave the historic stadium a new twist.
The sun that stuck around for the first week of competition was particularly strong at the slalom
venue as the surface quickly turned to slush and ruts gradually formed for the first-run leaders.
Without a World Cup win to her name, Anna Fenninger, 21, charged down the sloppy course
ahead of the top three downhillers to turn a 0.40-second first-run deficit into her first top-level
win and the second Austrian gold in as many events.
“You can never assign the medals ahead of things — Championships are something special,”
said Fenninger of her surprise win over Vonn (who took a planned rest through the slalom leg)
and Riesch (who slowed to 11th with the flu). “If top people are not in best shape, you realize
they aren’t as strong as they ought to be. We all have our ups and downs, we get sick; we have
crashes. Maybe it’s unlucky circumstance, but maybe it opens chances for others.”
Slovenian Tina Maze also had a superb slalom showing (she was the second-fastest) to keep
her nickname “Silver” Tina intact after standing 10th in the downhill. Maze was only nine hundredths of a second away from her first gold medal but still managed to capture her first top-level super combined podium.
“It is disappointing when you lose by such a small amount,” said Maze, who earned her second worlds silver and took a pair of second-place results at the Vancouver Games (SG and
GS). “It seems I am always losing to a German or Austrian girl by hundredths. Next time I have
to be first and somebody else second.” The statement would prove to be prophetic.
Swede Anja Paerson collected her 18th career medal ( 12 World Champs, six Olympic) in third
place after standing in the same spot in the downhill leg to kick off a very productive streak for
Fans noticed Laurenne
Ross with the sixth
fastest time on the