Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Austrians dominate practice for downhill race

AFP , LAKE LOUISE, CANADA

Kelly Vanderbeek of Canada races down the course during training for the Lake Louise World Cup women's downhill ski race in Alberta, Canada, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

The mighty Austrians posted seven of the top 10 fastest times in Wednesday's training run for the first women's Alpine World Cup downhill of the season.

Elisabeth Goergl led the potent Austrians by storming down the 2,814m course in a time of one minute, 51.25 seconds.

Goergl, who finished second in the giant slalom on Saturday in nearby Panorama, finished just 0.50 seconds ahead of teammate Maria Holaus who had the third fastest time of 1:52.01.

American Julia Mancuso was the fastest in the season's first downhill training run by clocking 1:51.25.

Mancuso finished runner-up in overall downhill standings last year. She had a breakthrough season in 2006-2007 winning downhills in Tarvisio, Italy and Val d'Isere, France.

Canadians Kelly Vanderbeek (1:52.22) and Britt Janyk (1:52.38) rounded out the top five.

Temperatures reached minus 8?C on Wednesday on the sun-kissed but windy Lake Louise slope.

Reigning slalom champ Marlies Schild, of Austria, continued her strong performance this season with the sixth fastest time on Wednesday.

Schild is the overall World Cup points leader this season after collecting her second slalom win of the young season on Sunday in Panorama.

"The course is really good," Schild said. "It was a little windy but I hope the wind dies down for Saturday's race."

American Lindsey (Kildow) Vonn looks forward to the Lake Louise races almost as much as anyone.

"This course is awesome," said Vonn, who had the 14th fastest time. "There are some little bumps in the top section but they do a good job of getting this course ready. I am ready to kick some butt."

World Cup overall champion Nicole Hosp of Austria took it easy on Wednesday, finishing 21st in 1:53.32.

The top women racers in the world were to return to the slopes yesterday for a second training session, and today for a final training session before this weekend's races.

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