Vonn tops training run on relentless Aspen course
ASPEN The snow here may be forgiving, but dont be deceived: Aspens downhill is relentless. Such was the prevailing notion Wednesday when the worlds top female skiers took their first turns on Ruthies in the first of two scheduled training days prior to Fridays race. This course has a little bit of everything, U.S. Ski Teamer Kaylin Richardson remarked. You have to use all of your bag of tricks. Lindsey Vonns bag of tricks included an impromptu acrobatic display on the technical bottom section. The 23-year-old former Ski & Snowboard Club Vail racer, who currently leads the World Cup downhill standings by virtue of her win last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta her fourth in as many years there took the wrong line into a left-footed compression near Strawpile, caught an edge and started going the wrong way down the hill on one ski.Vonn, who is nursing a sore hip sustained in a fall in Sundays super G in Lake Louise, averted further injury and, coincidentally, wound up posting the days fastest run. She finished in 1 minute, 34.07 seconds, .35 seconds ahead of Austrias Nicole Hosp. Italys Elena Fanchini (1:34.44) was third.There were three really big left turns that I didnt ski that well, Vonn said. I started to turn too early and slid into them. The course is tight and technical, kind of like a super-G. Aspens unique combination of undulations and terrain changes are a far cry from Lake Louise, which American racer Stacey Cook laughingly deemed a meathead downhill because of its propensity for hard snow and breakneck speeds.It was clear Wednesday that even the most tenured of World Cup competitors will need to adjust.Downhill is tough because you never know how fast its going to be or how the snow is, said Swedens Anja Paerson, a two-time overall champion. The jumps are bigger than I thought they were going to be.Theres going to be a lot of mistakes.
Here, strong technical skiing is as big a necessity as gliding. Knowing when to attack and what to expect will be imperative, American Julia Mancuso said. There arent that many flat sections so you have to charge and go for it when you can, which is one of my strengths, said Mancuso, who was third in last years final downhill standings and finished sixth Wednesday. There are a lot of places where you have to be patient and stick to your line as you drive down the hill.Richardson, a Minnesota native, couldnt quite nail the correct line and, despite negotiating the middle portion cleanly, wound up in a tie for 41st out of 64. If I could figure out the line, this could be a great course for me, the 23-year-old said. I killed the middle part, and Im looking forward to seeing the video. On the other parts, the video may be a little painful.Theres always something coming at you, so you have to be adaptable. Theres nothing up there that frightens me, so I have to go for it and be smart and see what happens. The more downhills I do, the more prepared I feel. American Stacey Cook has proven she can excel on a meathead course; she finished fourth in Lake Louise last season, her best result ever on the World Cup circuit. Shes proven she can be flexible, too. She finished 14th last season in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, a technical course Cook said reminds her of Ruthies. Theres no room for error Friday, Cook said. Because the course dictates skiing intelligently and meticulously rather than recklessly, pulling ahead or making up time will be difficult. Shes excited about the challenge.Its non-stop in your face, Cook said, pausing to look uphill. It has all the elements if youre two heartbeats behind on the technical bottom section, youre not going to make it. Itll definitely be a challenge, but I think it suits our team well.