Sun, Feb 04, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Renate Goetschl seeks to exorcise memories

AFP , ARE, SWEDEN

Austrian ace Renate Goetschl will go into the world championships super-G hoping to forget her memories of the Swedish resort which ruined her World Cup campaign in 2001.

Goetschl, the pacesetter in the speed disciplines of the women's World Cup this season, has a chance to claim her first world championship crown in seven years today.

And the 31-year-old is determined, after claiming six wins this season, not to let the location ruin her chances of claiming a first world crown since her downhill title at Beaver Creek, Colorado in 1999.

"I'm not coming into these championships thinking about the past or blaming a ski run or a place for anything that's happened in the past," she said on Friday.

Goetschl would be forgiven for feeling a pinch of pressure, however, when she lines up against her main rivals -- US pair Lindsey Kildow and Julia Mancuso.

Poised

Going into the final World Cup races of the 2001 season, the Austrian was poised to overtake Janica Kostelic in the overall standings and thus secure her second consecutive crystal globe.

But in Are, on the first day of the season finale, Goetschl crashed out of the downhill.

In the ensuing super-G she finished seventh, one place behind the Croatian ace, who went on to win the first of an eventual three World Cup crowns.

Kostelic's absence here may be relief for many of the women skiers competing.

However the four-time Olympic champion's decision to take a year out of the sport does not make things any easier.

The super-G, unlike the downhill, is not preceded by training runs, meaning racers have to rely on pure instinct on a course which combines the speed of the downhill with the turns of the giant slalom.

Goetschl may be the one to beat, but Kildow, Mancuso and local hope Anja Paerson are all out to stop her.

"I'm here to try and achieve something for my home country," said the 25-year-old Paerson, who has nonetheless been mediocre on the World Cup this season having undergone a knee operation last year. "I just have to go out and believe that the skiing I do in training will be enough to win medals."

Threat

Kildow however looks to be Goetschl's biggest threat.

She recently came second behind the Austrian in the first of two super-G's held at San Sicario in Italy last week.

Goetschl won the next day's downhill, but then the 22-year-old Kildow took the honors in the second super-G.

US women's head coach, Patrick Riml, believes Kildow and Mancuso have got the form to challenge all round in the championships.

"We've got at least two girls challenging in all the events -- Julia and Lindsey are confident," he said.

Goetschl however remains the favorite, and has admitted she will be looking to make the best use of the experience that has allowed her to claim 44 World Cup victories.

"I'm used to being the favorite at world championships, and it doesn't help here," she said.

"But it's all down to me. I know I can go out there and win. If it all comes together, it down to me to handle the pressure," Goetschl said.

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