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Speedsters Race Lake Louise

Switzerland’s Lara Gut Wins Lake Louise Super-G

Lara Gut returned to the top of the World Cup podium in Lake Louise on Sunday, winning what weather turned into a super-G sprint.

The Swiss ski star claimed a third career super-G victory at the Alberta resort after previous wins in 2013 and 2014.

Last season’s overall World Cup champion finished second in the previous day’s downhill, which Gut said was an indicator she’s skiing well.

“It’s my third win in super-G here so I knew that super-G wasn’t a big issue. It was always a fight in downhill,” Gut said. “Yesterday and the last days I had the feeling I was finally starting to build something.”

The women’s start was lowered due to weather a second straight day. Sunday’s snow-globe conditions turned the super-G — already a shorter distance than downhill with more turns — into a dash of just over a minute.

The race was also delayed 75 minutes to groom and reset the top of the course.

“I’m getting to be old enough to learn how to handle that,” Gut said. “I just had to wait an hour longer, but that’s not the first time that’s happened.

“The key is to stay focused and take it easy. If they say the race is on, someone is going to win and I don’t want to go to the start and already be beaten because I lost all my energy.”
Gut’s time was one minute 2.68 seconds. Runner-up Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was a tenth of a second back of Gut. Italy’s Sofia Goggia, the runner-up in Friday’s opening downhill, was third in 1:03.27.

Stuhec falls short of sweep

Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, a double downhill victor in Lake Louise this year, placed fifth. Valerie Grenier of Mont-Tremblant, QC, was the top Canadian in 25th.

American ski star Lindsey Vonn, who swept all three races in 2015, was absent this year because of a broken arm suffered in training last month. Vonn has made it difficult for anyone else to win in “Lake Lindsey” with 18 victories.

It was a World Cup of firsts for a green Canadian team ranging in age from 19 to 22.

Grenier, 20, collected the first downhill points of her career placing 16th and 28th. She was disappointed to place outside the top 15 in super-G.

“Overall I’m pretty satisfied. I got most of the goals,” Grenier said. “It’s still three top thirties which is an accomplishment for me. That’s what I was hoping for but I definitely want to get better now.”

She’s also showing promise as an all-around skier having posted top-30 results in slalom and giant slalom a week earlier in Killington, Vt. Toronto’s Candace Crawford, 22, raced the first downhills of her career, while 19-year-old development team racer Stefanie Fleckenstein of Whistler, B.C., competed in her first World Cup races ever.

Crawford was 39th and Fleckenstein 53rd in super-G. Mikaela Tommy of Wakefield, QC, pulled out of the three races with a sore back.

Alpine Canada plans to build team

The last Canadian woman to win a medal in Lake Louise was Emily Brydon with a silver and bronze in the 2009 downhills.
The country’s strength in women’s ski racing has since shifted from the speed events to slalom and giant slalom, led by Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, QC, and Erin Mielzynski of Collingwood, ON. Alpine Canada stated in its 2015-16 report that “we will plan for the re-establishment of a women’s dedicated speed team with a goal to establish a stand-alone team by 2018.”

Alpine Canada stated in its 2015-16 report that “we will plan for the re-establishment of a women’s dedicated speed team with a goal to establish a stand-alone team by 2018.”

The organization’s athletic director says young talent is currently groomed to race technical events first on the World Cup circuit, before progressing to super-G and then downhill.
“You really have to go in the direction of the best discipline for each athlete,” Martin Rufener told The Canadian Press. “It’s important to get into the top 30 in the World Cup.”Canada’s women depart Monday for a giant slalom and slalom Saturday and Sunday respectively in Sestriere, Italy, followed by

Canada’s women depart Monday for a giant slalom and slalom Saturday and Sunday respectively in Sestriere, Italy, followed by downhill and super-G races in Val-d’Isere, France.

– Canadian Press. Photos Lara Gut by John Evely.