Looks like the smart money is on Maria Riesch (pictured) this year for the overall World Cup title. Riesch, who has always had a decided edge over Vonn in the technical races, has beaten her rival in the season’s first speed event. Riesch bested Vonn today at Lake Louise, the first downhill on the women’s World Cup. It’s Riesch’s fifth downhill World Cup win, and second at Lake Louise (previous 2007).
With light snow falling, Lindsey Vonn took to the icy Lake Louise course. Two taps of her poles, Vonn set up in the starting gate. A kick start out and Vonn was off. Through the first intermediate time, Vonn was 0.34 seconds up. She was late in sections, a little wild of the first jump, but she was fast.
Through the second intermediate time, Vonn was 0.25 seconds up. The Head skis were gliding fast, and by the third intermediate time Vonn was 0.71 seconds up. Fast skis, fast Vonn, and she crossed the finish line a full second separating her and the first 15 racers.
Vonn’s main rival, Maira Riesch came two racers after Vonn. Through the first intermediate time, Riesch was 0.15 seconds faster than Vonn. The second intermediate time she was a full 0.46 seconds faster than Vonn. The third intermediate time she was 0.40 seconds up, and crossing the finish line, Riesch squeezed by Vonn by 0.12 seconds.
Julia Mancuso, who had been blazing in training, was 0.40 seconds off of Riesch after the first split. Through the second split she was 0.49 seconds back. Through the third, Mancuso was 0.78 seconds back, and crossing the line Squaw Valley’s finest finished 0.99 seconds back, behind Riesch and Vonn.
Elizabeth Goergl of Austria was the only racer after the Vonn-Riesch-Mancuso starting group to challenge for the top spot. Goergl knocked Manuco off the podium, finishing 0.21 seconds back, good for third.
For the other Americans, Alice McKennis started first and finished 11th. McKennis gives the American team three racers in the top 11. All-in-all, seven American racers scored World Cup points, finishing in the top 30. Great day for the women’s U.S. Ski Team.