Germany’s Riesch wins World Cup downhill
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – Maria Riesch of Germany won her second World Cup downhill in as many days, edging Lindsey Vonn after a remarkable recovery by the American.
Riesch posted a winning time of 1 minute, 29.60 seconds Saturday, beating Vonn by a margin of 0.10. Dominique Gisin of Switzerland was third.
Riesch is the first German woman to win back-to-back downhills at Lake Louise since Katja Seizinger in 1997. A year ago, it was Vonn winning back-to-back downhills.
Now Riesch is giving early notice that she will challenge her friend and American rival this season for the overall World Cup title.
“I hope so, of course, that’s a big aim for me,” Riesch said. “That last three years I had no chance because she was so dominating in downhill and super-G.
“I was hoping I can keep up with her in downhill because last year I was on the right way, but not often enough. It’s still good to have good results at the beginning of the season for your confidence. Every single point is important.”
Vonn, the three-time defending World Cup champion, pulled off quite the trick to finish runner-up for a second straight day. She was entering a critical left-hand turn when she hit a bump that sent her flying sideways.
She momentarily went down on her left hip before springing back up off the snow and regaining her tuck position to keep charging down the mountain.
“Probably one of the most amazing recoveries in the history of ski racing,” U.S. women’s speed coach Chip White said. “Honestly, I thought she was into the fence – 99 percent of all racers would’ve been in the fence. To still end up where she was? It’s unbelievable she was in the top 20, much less second.”
For her ability to recover from a near fall, Vonn credits increasing her offseason workout program last summer. She spent nearly seven hours a day in the gym to improve her strength, conditioning and agility.
“I normally would’ve been in the fences, possibly have a major injury,” Vonn told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Today I was able to recover it and stand back up. It gives me a lot of confidence to know that I can essentially fall and still be on the podium.
“But it was a wild ride.”
The Americans turned in a solid day at Lake Louise, with seven skiers finishing in the top 25. Julia Mancuso wound up sixth. New Castle’s Alice McKennis finished 15th with a time of 1:31.03.
“We’re really pleased with that,” White said.
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UPDATE 5:27 p.m. — Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon has reopened in both directions Saturday evening after a safety closure due to a flash flood warning. There were no reported mud/debris slides.