CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy – Even though she had a little brush with disaster in training on Wednesday, Lindsey Vonn was back to form on Thursday, setting a pace all her own on the Olympia della Tofane course in Cortina.
Amid gray skies, a light wind and much colder temperatures, Vonn posted a second run training time of 1 minute, 40.13 seconds and Julia Mancuso and Elisabeth Goergl were the only racers to come within 2 seconds of her.
“It was tough conditions today, snowing a little on top, flat light all around. The most difficult thing today was the snow was different. Since it snowed a little yesterday, they groomed the whole hill form top to bottom and some of the turns are pretty bally – there are some big chunks of snow – and it’s hard to really bend the ski because there’s really no platform. So it’s hard to get the feeling of the snow, but it was a good pretty training run and I’m happy with it so I hope I can do the same on Saturday,” said Vonn, who won both the downhill and the super G in Cortina last year as well as the downhill in 2008 and landed her first World Cup career podium here in the 2004 downhill.
“In the past couple years, it seemed like the course was getting easier, but this year it’s awesome. There’s air on Tofana this year … I love it. It’s such a cool effect. It’s one of the coolest parts of downhill of all the courses I’ve run,” Vonn said. “With the turns a little bit father apart, it makes it a little more technical. It’s just all around a really great downhill. Cortina is definitely one of my favorite stops on the tour. It’s one of those courses you know like the back of your hand. You don’t have to really think twice about the course. I know what to do. I trust myself. So it’s kind of fun to push the limits and see what you’re capable of doing.”
Though Vonn is capable of beating most of the field by 2 seconds, she is also capable of making incredible recoveries at high speeds. She was 29th in Wednesday’s training after coming very close to a horrible crash.
“I think I’m going to post a video of it on Facebook,” she said. “I was skiing well on the top, then on the bottom I got late, my outside ski caught, then my inside ski caught, I did the splits, then they hit together and I almost went over the tips of my skis, going like 75 or 80 [miles per hour],” she said. “I was literally like a millimeter from hooking my tip in downhill, so that was definitely scary. I’m trying not to do that again … ever. Today was a better run. I was clean from top to bottom.”
Mancuso, who was second to Maria Riesch in the first training run and followed Vonn by 1.37 seconds Thursday, said she was pleasantly surprised to see the margin she set between herself and the other racers when she crossed the finish line (she ran 10th and was more than a second faster than the lead pace when she finished) because she felt the snow was much slower on Thursday.
“I don’t think the cold weather came until today and it’s getting colder so it didn’t quite set up. It’s a little rough. But it’s not that bad, considering,” she said of the course. “It’s windy on top but you don’t really feel it. The snow is softer so it doesn’t feel quite as fast. It’s bumpy on the bottom so now you can’t just put your head down and go to the finish, you have to ski the last part well, too.”
Mancuso, who won the Cortina super G in 2007, was second in 2008 and 2006 and second in DH in 2006 and 2007, said she was aware of the areas where she lost the time to Vonn on Thursday.
“I felt yesterday I skied better in the turns,” Mancuso said. “Today I felt I had to give a little because you couldn’t let your skis go from under you. There was nothing to get the skis to bite. I went a little straighter into sections and threw them a little. It could be the difference between Lindsey being that much faster … you can ski cleaner.”
Goergl, who was 1.68 seconds off the lead pace Thursday and who has twice been on the speed podium in Cortina (super G in 2008 and downhill in 2006), said she felt conditions were much improved from the first training but wondered about the absence of the famous Cortina sunshine (forecasted to possibly make an appearance – along with still colder temperatures – for Friday’s super G).
“I don’t know where she’s hiding,” Goergl said of the sun. “But all in all, it was definitely way better than yesterday. The snow wasn’t that bumpy anymore. It was easier to ski today for me. It differs a little, like one gate at Coaches corner is really soft and then there are some icy parts, too. It’s definitely turny. You have to ski the turns good and carry the speed out of the turny parts as good as you can. It’s the same challenge as always, but maybe a little more technical.”
Following Goergl, local Italian Johanna Schnarf was fourth fastest Thursday, 2.06 seconds off of Vonn’s pace, followed by Marie Marchand-Arvier, 2.44 seconds back and Andrea Fischbacher, 2.50 seconds back.
Maria Riesch, who dominated training on Wednesday, finished seventh in Thursday’s training, 2.58 seconds off of Vonn’s pace.
The 2011 World Cup at Cortina begins on Friday with super G at 10 a.m. (replacing the canceled race in St. Moritz and Val d’Isere), followed by downhill Saturday and another SG Sunday.
Click here for full results from Thursday’s training.
Go here to watch a video of Lindsey Vonn talking about her training runs.
by Shauna Farnellemail@example.com