First run for the ladies in their last alpine event of the 2010 Winter Olympics: the slalom.
Maria Riesch skied a completely flawless first run. And she knew it crossing the line, raising her arms before even registering her time. Riesch was as fast as she felt. The German star is up 0.40 seconds on the Czech’s Sarka Zahrobska heading into the second run. Flawless was a possibility for perhaps the first 10 racers. After that, bust out the bobsled.
By the time, Ana Jelusic came down the course, just eight racers into the field, the course appeared badly rutted in spots. Today is a day for a very early starting spot. Racers starting in the late teens and beyond would have to fight to stay close and then use the advantage of a better starting position on the second run.
Lindsey Vonn, starting 10th, straddled a gate in a fairly simple, flat part of the course. One turn threw her off, and the next turn ended Lindsey Vonn’s Winter Olympics experience.
Just 20 racers into this first run of the slalom, and the course was going from bad to worse.
But, then came Vail’s Sarah Schleper (pictured left). With a howl of death, Schleper psyched herself up big time and kicked into the course. She skied an attacking, awesome first run, and moved into 9th position. It was a remarkable run, starting in the 26th position. Other racers before her were coming in a full two to three seconds back, just trying to survive. Schleper attacked the entire time, hands and weight forward, and tamed the shredded conditions. She remains in striking distance, just 1.08 seconds back.
Only Brigitte Acton of Canada and Veronika Zuzulova of Slovokia were able to accomplish anything near what Schleper did under the choppy conditions and late starting position. Acton and Zuzulova are both 1.36 second back, tied for 11th.
The second run is scheduled for 1.30pm (Vancouver local time).