Sunday, December 9, 2012

Saint Moritz goes drama

Rivalries in sport are among the things that add thrill to events and it's quite well known that in women sports rivalry can become way more intense than the ones between men; if you consider an individual sport like skiing and you think of one of the most successful athlet ever like Lindsey Vonn, and one of the most fiercy girl on the circuite like Tina Maze, it was to be expected that the two big personalities would sooner or later clash, mostly in the moment when the latter calls into question the predominance of the former.
The eppisode happened after the 2nd day's SuperG, when the Slovene was leading when Vonn took the lead and apparently said "f*ck off Maze", the Slovenian team made a formal report, but the FIS turned it down confirming Lindsey version, which was "it was f*cking amazing". The two still look far from cool about that, but in all honesty it couldn't but add a spicy taste to that more and more interesting world cup.

Maze wins the super-combi ahead of Austrian duo

The first speed race in the old Europe was the SuperG valid for the Combi in Saint Moritz and a lot of interest was on Lindsey Vonn, who completely owned the speed events in Lake Louise and of course on Tina Maze, the overall ranking leader, called for a better display of her talent after the murky Canadian week end.
Because of the cloudy sky, the setting, inspite of being rather easy, had its major difficulty on the flat visibility, which didn't let the girls see all the waves which the Swiss slope is famous for.
Among the first racers no-one made such a run that could seem to bother the big names that would later follow, only German slalom specialist Lena Duerr hit a good time, mostly because she knew she could better her ranking in the slalom which would follow.
Compatriot Maria Riesch, many numbers later, scored a great time thanks to a superb late part, where she eventually would be the faster. Nontheless, Maria didn't finish the first run on the lead as home favourite Lara Gut was faster and so Tina Maze.
An Austrian trio made by Fenninger, Hosp and Zettel finished right behind Riesch, but ahead of Duerr, but the biggest surprise came from Lindsey Vonn, who didn't score the best time in the speed race, for the first time after a very long while.
The slalom looked pretty easy, nontheless the slalom specialists showed their skills on the track, so Marie-Michelle Gagnon came from the bottom of the ranking with a terrific run and same did Michaela Kirchgasser as they finished respectively 8th and 9th.
Lena Duerr was the first one to end the climbing of the Canadian, but then Kathrin Zettel, winner of the last slalom, scored the 2nd best run and snatched the lead. Against all odds her leadership lasted but few moments as team-mate Nicole Hosp found probably her best slalom run in a year and took it.
The raise of the Austrians looked unstoppable as one by one many possible contenders started to fall behind them in the ranking, names the like of Goergl and Mancuso couldn't do anything and then after no longer than a few gates Lindsey Vonn unexpectedly went out.
Everyone was expecting Riesch to battle hard or at least administrate her lead, since she was the winner of the first slalom of the year, but the German looked a bit too cautious and she eventually finished behind the Austrian duo.
2nd after the first run, Lara Gut tried her best, but the lack of training in the fast gates of Slalom took its toll and so Lara couldn't stop the Austrians, but her run was still very solid, enough to eventually finish 5th.
Superg leader and overall WC leader Tina Maze knew her biggest rival was out, but that didn't prevent her from skiing the best she knows, attacking the course and crashing everyone's time in the slalom run too, winning the whole.

Vonn still unbeaten in speed.

The superg that followed only 24 hours later was menomated of its top part because of the huge wind that was blowing early in the morning, but the setting done by Maze's trainer didn't make it much of a loss, as he could draw a very entertaining course, where the girls had to ski at their best to prove their values.
On such a technical setting it didn't come as a surprise to see German GS specialist Viktoria Rebensburg taking the lead early in the race, followed by Italian Specialist Elena Curtoni. The two led the race until the very best girls of the top group came down the slope and finished eventually both in the top 10.
One of the huge favourite after the SuperCombi of the day before was surely Lara Gut, but sadly for her she couldn't back up the result as a fall took her chances off from the day.
Tina Maze, bib 17, was the first one to better the German's time and she actually crashed it by being almost flawless in each section of the slope finishing more than 1 second ahead of everybody.
Maria Riesch first and Julia Mancuso then tried their best, but little seemed to be possible done to prevent Maze to win her first Superg in her carreer and finally enter the exclusive club of the ones to have won a race in each discipline. The German closed the race on the 5th place, while Mancuso was eventually 3rd.
Lindsey Vonn knew there was little to be done indeed, but she knew how to do that little, she was extremly fast in the parts that most suited her, but didn't risk too much in the middle section where the GS-like turns might have demaged her. It was close, really closer than an eye-blink, but those 20 hundreds were enough to secure Vonn's win over Maze and that was the moment when all the drama descibed above happened.
The race wasn't over though, as Swiss Fabienne Suter showed her great attitude in the discipline, despite a slow start this season and scored a great time that secured her the 4th place and many other girls scored good time with higher number as Tessa Worley 7th with 31 or M.M. Gagnon 13th (bib 56) sharing the placement with Duerr (bib 45).

Maze stronger than Vonn's mental games

Slovenian Tina Maze has built her leadership on the overall WC by being more than solid in every discipline, but most of all by going undefeated in Giant Slalom up to date and on this status she still was able to leave St. Moritz, but her win came after a great quality run from all the top names in both runs.
After the first run little surprise found room as everything went almost as expected: Tina Maze was leading, though this time with not much of a gap, Tessa Worley of France. 3rd place for Rebensburg, while 4th place was snatched by a very inspired Lara Gut. The 5th place was taken quite surprisingly by Vonn and 6th was Italian Federica Brignone, still far from her best in this season, but willing to make a turn around.
The second run was marked by a few girls running great manches with early numbers as Italian Elena Curtoni rose from 30th to 16th, while Marie Michelle Gagnon did even better to confirm her great form finishing 12th from 26th. Right ahead of the Canadian finished another comebackers, Swedish slalom sensation Frida Hansdotter, who was 19th after the first half.
The raise of the latter was stopped by Italian Irene Curtoni, who took the lead and in a few moment secured herself another top 10 placement, sharing her placement with Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser - eventually 7th by the end.
Maria Riesch didn't ski the best, but a solid run for her standards in GS and still secured herself a top 10 finish. Austrian Zettel finished just ahead of the Italian-Austrian pair, but the real surprise came from Marlies Schield as she skied a very impressive run in Giant Slalom, showing how her hard work is paying even far from the rapid gates of her beloved Slalom.
Italian Federica Brignone, vexed by a little injury and by the fears of two bad races in the first 2 GS, started very bravely trying to prove herself and the world that she's still competitive even after the change of materials, but luck didn't assist her and a mistake caused her a fall, with no consequences but a great disappointment.
Almost the same destiny was written for Lindsey Vonn, who was leading up to the point when she committed a huge mistake and only her rough power let her stay inside the course. Nonetheless she was last at the finish line.
Despite the amazing run she had in the second leg, Lara Gut wasn't able to improve her final position as the three girls ahead of them menaged to do even better. German Viktoria Rebensburg was surely given on a great form and for sure, we don't discover her talent today, but she pulverized Gut's time by skiing such an errorless run fought from the very beginning to the last gate.
Tessa Worley seemed to know she needed her best run to stay ahead of Viktoria, but her tactic of attacking full-forces didn't pay at the end as the little mistakes she had cost her that loss of one placement, but she was still able to finish 3rd eventually.
Tina Maze had quite a good gap to start with, but she was concious it wouldn't have been enough if she had just tried to administrate it. She started very aggressive and could even enhance her lead, but the impressive run from Viktoria had been done from half to finish and slowly Tina started to lose her advantage, but by the end 8 hundreds saved her from losing the race.

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