A lot of interest was concerning this year's opening race of Soelden (Austria). As usual there was a lot of talk ongoing, mostly regarding who could confirm last year's form and who wouldn't, who could make it close to the bigger names and if there would be some newcomers.
Not only, two great questionmarks were finding place in all those rumors: the first one, pretty common here in Soelden, concerning the weather as the forcasts for the weekend were the ones of January, not of October and up to the glacier that could mean a lot of troubles; secondly, and probably the hottest topic of the year, dealing with the change of materials, with longer skis and their radius.
Bib number 1 was Austrian's evergreen Lizzy Goergl, that made quite a few mistakes in the early gates and seemed to never find a good way to deal with the long turns and maybe even with the new skis.
Two year's defending champion in GS Viktoria Rebensburg skied a very solid run, but differently from what happened in the past two season she didn't look unbeatable and soon we had a confirmation of that as after a pretty bad run of last year's winners here and overall champion Vonn, Tina Maze showed that with a bit more of corague and determination, those longer skis can still perform as well as the old ones.
Maze looked very impressive mostly on the steep gates of the middle part of the Rettenbach glacier ending the run with over a second of lead on Rebensburg and eventually only one skier could do any better of the German and it was Tessa Worley, who seemed to well adapt her tecnique to the new skis and finished the run "only" 0.76 seconds behind the Slovenian.
None ever again got any closer to the terrific time from Maze so that the last to qualify for the 2nd run was over 4 and half second trailing.
The second run had to be postponed several times because by the end of the first run a very heavy fog started go down the slope, but finally Frida Hansdotter from Sweden could make it begin with more than one hour of delay.
She could ski a very solid run, which eventually will give her a quite good uprise in the final ranking, but the girl that went down right after did something even greater. Susanne Weinbuchner, 21 year old German, didn't get any fear from that first experience in a world cup 2nd run, but on the contrary looked very enthusiastic and could take advantage of the low bib and made a terrific run, that hardly anyone going down right after her could challenge - only Nadia Fanchini, from Italy, seemed to be close on beating her time, but she eventually went out at the end of steep - and so she made a great improvement in her placement finishing the race with a raise of 17 places finishing 12th!
The weather looked like getting worse, so the girl started their run with little breaks one between the other and the rythm of that second run became even more fast and rich of emotions.
Lindell-Vikarby first and Curtoni Irene first could overtake the German in the leading, but then it was Vonn's turn and everyone was expecting her to make a great comeback in the second run; unfortunately in the early gates Lindsay crashed into a gate and was forced to retire looking highly on pain on her arm.
Gagnon and Gisin seemed to be unable to better Stefanie's run, but both could finish close enough to climb the ranking with her. Sadly for Italians fans Brignone couldn't really cope with the second run and went out, whilst Denise Karbon looked a little worse than in the 1st run finishing far from the podium.
An even greater disappoinment arrived to the German fanbase as Riesch skied in a very horrid fashion, never really doing anything down there and quite often going in over-rotation with the upper body and losing the outer ski.
When Zettel was about to start the fog and snowfall clearly seemed to be too heavy to let anyone making a better time than Koehle's, but so it wasn't. Kathrin risked everything and in the first gates she almost fell as much she was going down inwards to close the turns faster. She hit then an amazing time, better than the team mate and so it was all on the top 3's shoulders.
Rebensburg fell immediatly in the trapts of the upper part and after a couple of gates she was already out, same for Tessa Worley, who unluckily entered the gate with the inner ski and so had to stop.
Tina Maze was sure of a great advantage she secured after the first run, but clearly she knew that she couldn't deal on that only after the amazing run of Zettel.
So she started a little more coutious than in the first run, but still solid and aggressive enough to stop Zettel's attack to her leadership, with a magistral display of mental strenght she closed in the first position, finding a win again after more of a year.
Final result: Maze, Zettel, Koehle. For Stefanie it was the first podium in her carreer.