Austrians Sweep Women's Downhill


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St. Anton, Austria Feb. 6, 2001 (FIS)–For a week and a half the Austrians waited for a medal in their home World Championships at St.Anton ¿ and now the ladies took all of them in downhill at once. Michaela Dorfmeister celebrates her first gold, and defending champion Renate Goetschl takes home silver this time around, while the surprising Selina Heregger takes bronze.

This is the second time in a row that the Austrian ladies have scooped all the medals in downhill. The last time was in Vail, Colorado, two years ago when Goetschl, Dorfmeister and Stefanie Schuster took over the podium, followed by another Austrian, Alexandra Meissnitzer, in fourth.

During the training runs, Dorfmeister’s equipment had not been suited to the packed snow, causing her to lose valuable seconds on the leader and ranking in the lower end of the spectrum every time. “I never doubted that I would have a chance at a medal anyway”, the 27-year-old said at the finish. Her positive outlook had improved, especially over the course of last weekend, when new snow changed the running conditions completely, blanketing over her equipment problems once and for all.

The new World Champion, who last won Olympic silver at Nagano in super-G and excelled at Vail two years ago, taking home both silver in downhill, and bronze in super-G, did not lose her cool today ¿ even when internal quibbles over the starting sequence upset the team. “I have a very strong nature and was able to ignore most of the discussions going on. Today was a perfect example for how quickly things can change.”

St.Anton holds fond memories for Michaela Dorfmeister, as it was here that she celebrated her first ¿ and up to now only ¿ World Cup downhill win in mid-December of 1995.

Renate Goetschl missed her second downhill gold by only 0.14 seconds, a bit of a disappointment for her after her super-G and combination botches, where she dropped out in both events. “I am still happy about the result, because I pushed the limit today,” she commented. Selina Heregger, who only qualified for the Austrian World Championship team at the last second, and then persevered in the internal qualifiers against Tanja Schneider, called her medal win today “totally crazy”. “To be able to win a medal in one’s World Championship debut ¿ and that at home ¿ that feeling is beyond words,” she beamed. But she is no stranger to World Championship medals: after all she was Junior World Champion in both downhill and combination back in 1996, and last year she was Europe Cup champion and giant-slalom winner as well. Not an unknown after all.

The other top favorite for this event, Italian Isolde Kostner, had to make do with fifth place after Corinne Rey-Bellet, who had also finished fourth in super-G.