(From the US Ski Team)
VAL D'ISERE, France (Dec. 17, 2005) - Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO) ignored new snow, gusting winds, shaky conditions and a couple of bobbles Saturday to win her second World Cup downhill with Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) second, the first 1-2 U.S. finish in DH since Picabo Street and Hilary Lindh in 1994.
Officials lowered the start of the race because of the changing visibility and conditions. Kildow, who has won two of the three World Cup DHs this season, led at every checkpoint down the 2K course, won in 1:21.91 and took the World Cup downhill points lead. Lalive was second in 1:22.29, her best result in nearly three years (since finishing second in DH at World Cup Finals in 2002).
The race was called off after 36 skiers. Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) finished 12th with Kirsten Clark 21st, Stacey Cook (Truckee, CA) 30th and Bryna McCarty (Concord, VT) 37th with Libby Ludlow (Bellevue, WA) not getting to start.
Two Americans on the podium
"It's so nice to have Caroline up there on the podium. She's skied so well all summer and fall, and she did so well today, Kildow said. "It was pretty special because the weather was so gnarly...
"I kinda surprised myself, too, because I made a couple of mistakes, but I kept my tuck, kept attacking, the winner said. "I got a great course report from Julia and I kept pushing. She had one bobble when she got into soft snow before the second jump in mid-race and she had another miscue at the bottom, but charging and maintaining her aerodynamic position paid off.
"We tell them every day to keep their focus at the start, stay positive," said U.S. Head Coach Patrick Riml. "And, obviously, Lindsey and 'Liner' were awesome and executed beautifully, but I have to say all the girls did so well. They were outstanding in very hard conditions. We had no fog but it snowed overnight and then the wind picked up; it was tough."
Blowing snow rolled across the Oreiller-Killy course and created soft underfooting as dozens of course-slippers kept running down the course, pushing snow to the side while the start time was pushed back and the start house was lowered to the normal super G start point. The start was postponed from 10:15 to 11:30...and finally to noon.
Lalive: "You know there'll be delays...
"That's the game with downhill because you know there'll be delays, Lalive said after posting the fifth top-3 of her career. "It was kinda nasty but I think we thrive in this weather. It was boring, more than anything; we sat around the lodge but after (finishing seventh in Friday's) training, I was really excited to race. We knew there would be delays...and you want to stay positive.
Kildow added, "The conditions were so bad, the light was flat and we were just waiting. You had to not think about it. It looked like it wasn't going to happen, but they groomed and slipped all night. Definitely, some sections were soft and outside the track it was very soft...but so buffed in the track.
Frustrated with so-so results early in the season, Lalive was visibly relieved - pumping a fist in the finish area as she saw the "2 next to her name and time on the scoreboard after starting 24th.
As she aims for her third Olympic Team, Lalive said each race has greater impact. She had been 39th and tied for 48th in the first two DHs of the season earlier this month. "After my disappointing finishes in Lake Louise, there was definitely more urgency in wanting to race again. I thought, 'Wow! It's been a long time coming' and it's definitely been worth all the tears and frustration.
Course workers deserve a gold medal
Course conditions became rutted in places, Lalive said, "but they really did a great job keeping the course in good shape. The people did an amazing job keeping the track clear within the course. Riml said simply. "These guys worked their asses off today, really did a great job in holding tthe race; it was not easy at all.
Street, who would go on to capture the 1995 and '96 World Cup DH titles, earned the first of her nine downhill victories at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Dec. 9, 1994 with Lindh runnerup; coincidentally, Kildow's two previous wins were at Lake Louise.
The final event on the women's schedule during Val d'Isere's 50th Criterium of the First Snow comes Sunday with super G and then the women move on to Spindleruv Mlyn in the Czech Republic for a giant slalom and slalom Wednesday and Thursday.
WOMEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP
50th Criterium de la Premiere Neige
Val d'Isere, FRA - Dec. 17, 2005
1. Lindsey Kildow, Vail, Colo., 1:21.91
2. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 1:22.29
3. Alexandra Meissnitzer, Austria, 1:22.30
4. Petra Haltmayr, Germany, 1:22.46
5. Janica Kostelic, Croatia, 1:22.48
12. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, Calif., 1:23.00
21. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, Maine, 1:23.42
30. Stacey Cook, Truckee, Calif., 1:23.93
37. Bryna McCarty, Concord, Vt., 1:25.30
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