Canadian Leads Women's Downhill Training


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February 14, 2006

SAN SICARIO, Italy (AP Press Release)—Unheralded Kelly Vanderbeek of Canada led the final training session Tuesday for the women’s downhill, while the powerful Austrians braked deliberately and 2002 triple gold medalist Janica Kostelic sat out sick.

Vanderbeek covered the Fraiteve Olympique course in 1 minute, 55.23 seconds. Multi-medal favorite Anja Paerson of Sweden was second, 0.07 seconds behind, and Julia Mancuso of the United States was third, 0.09 back.

The 23-year-old Vanderbeek has never finished higher than 15th in a World Cup downhill. This is her first Olympics.

Austrian speedsters Renate Goetschl, Michaela Dorfmeister and Alexandra Meisnnitzer braked heavily before crossing the finish line and placed seventh, eighth and 22nd, respectively.

Tuesday’s session determined the order for Wednesday’s race, with the top 30 finishers starting in reverse order.

Vanderbeek will therefore start 30th. The Austrians said they wanted to start earlier, when vision is better, because high clouds came over the course midway through each of the three training sessions.

Kostelic, who won the slalom, giant slalom and combined in Salt Lake City four years ago, decided not to ski at the last moment Tuesday due to a high pulse.

“She was not feeling good, her pulse was high and she decided not to race, Croatia skiing director Vedran Pavlek said.

Having already skied the first two training sessions, Kostelic can still compete in Wednesday’s race.

American Lindsey Kildow, who came away with only a bruised hip from a horrific crash in Monday’s training, also did not compete Tuesday. The U.S. team said she would attempt to race Wednesday.

If Kostelic and Kildow do compete, they will start outside the top 30.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press