Anja Paerson turned in a hot training run on a freezing day to warn Lindsey Vonn on Thursday that she will have competition in the opening women’s downhill race of the World Cup season.
Paerson skied through minus-29˚C temperatures to cover the 3km men’s Olympic downhill in 1 minute, 51.36 seconds.
France’s Marie Marchand-Arvier was second in 1:51.46, while Vonn, the defending World Cup overall and downhill champion, was third in 1:51.82.
Vonn has won a downhill at Lake Louise in each of the last four years. Paerson’s best finish was a third in 2006, but the Swede said the American can be caught.
“Every year, everybody is beatable,” said Paerson, who has 38 World Cup victories, mostly in technical events. “For Lindsey, she is just going to go in relaxed and do what she always does here. I’ve been there a lot of years where I won. It’s hard to get a higher and higher tempo. It’s easier to hunt. I hope this year we hunt well.”
Vonn, skiing on a sore knee, won Wednesday’s training but said a mistake on the course cost her on Thursday.
“It was pretty passive skiing,” she said. “With the light I was a little nervous. I never really like to do that well in the last training run. I like to feel like I can give more on race day. You never like to feel like you have it. You’ve got to always keep working.”
Marchand-Arvier skied with a skull and crossbones drawn on the white tape that protected her face from the cold. She has never won a World Cup race, but gained confidence from her training.
“Last year I didn’t ski fast here and I had a lot of problems in my training,” she said. “This year I tried to be very fast in the training. This takes some of the pressure off. I am good in the race when I do good training.”
Another downhill race is scheduled for today and the first super-G of the season tomorrow.