Goetschl back on form
ARE, Sweden – Last year this time, Renate Goetschl sat on a beach in the Canary Islands contemplating retirement.After knee surgery and switching ski brands, she decided to return for at least one more season.On Sunday, she hopes to compete as the favorite in the super-G at the Alpine Skiing World Championships, with Americans Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Kildow among her top challengers.Goetschl has won six races this season and vaulted atop the overall World Cup standings last weekend with two victories and a runner-up finish in San Sicario, Italy.”This season is going better than anyone expected,” Goetschl said. “If I get something more at these championships, it will be almost perfect.”The men’s super-G at the worlds was postponed Saturday because of wind that reached 67 mph, and was rescheduled for Monday. Organizers said the same could happen to the women’s event on Sunday.
Though the wind is expected to calm down to about 28 mph Sunday, mild temperatures have softened parts of the women’s course.”There is a lot of snow on the course, but the bottom is very soft,” race director Atle Skaardal said. “We need a weather change tonight and the snow to be hard tomorrow. We are facing a very, very difficult night, and tomorrow, but we have the crew and the machines and we will do our best to push the snow off.”If postponed, the women’s race likely would be held Tuesday, Skaardal said.Goetschl has won three of five super-Gs this season and isn’t concerned that she doesn’t know the course in Are. While she was in the Canary Islands, her rivals competed on the new course at the World Cup finals last year.”It doesn’t matter in the present situation,” said the Austrian. “I don’t really think about that too much. I feel good.”Mancuso and Kildow have won a super-G apiece this season. Mancuso took the bronze medal in the discipline at the last worlds.”We’ve been challenging (Goetschl) a couple of times this year and beating her,” U.S. speed coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. Goetschl “needs to have a perfect run to beat those girls.”
Anja Paerson of Sweden is the defending world champion in super-G and will have the support of the home fans. Paerson hasn’t won a race this season, struggling to regain her form from knee surgery.”I don’t think they should count me out,” Paerson said. “If I can manage to maintain the same speed I’ve had (in practice), I should do pretty well. They’re still just red and blue gates, nothing else.”Paerson said she traditionally does well in the first race of a major championship.”I don’t think too much, I just throw myself out there and ski. Then the thoughts come later,” she said.Olympic super-G champion Michaela Dorfmeister retired at the end of last season. But Austria’s team is still loaded.Nicole Hosp was twice runner-up in super-G this season and Christine Sponring is coming off two third-place finishes in San Sicario. Hosp won the super-G here at last year’s finals.”It’s the first time I know a course better than (Goetschl) does,” Hosp said. “Usually it’s the other way around.”
Alexandra Meissnitzer is the fourth super-G starter for Austria.Meissnitzer, who will likely retire at the end of this season, won the super-G at the 1999 worlds in Vail, took bronze at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and last year’s Turin Games. Her best World Cup finish this season was fourth in December in Reiteralm, Austria.”I haven’t been having the best season so I’m glad to make it,” Meissnitzer said.Goetschl is third on the all-time list with 44 World Cup wins, but she hasn’t performed great at worlds or the Olympics. Her best super-G result at a major championship was silver at the 1999 worlds behind Meissnitzer.”I’m not nervous. I know what to do,” Goetschl said. “I treat every race as a world championship. It’s just different to everyone else.”