Lenzerheide, Switzerland Mar. 5--After two days of frustrationcaused by snow and more snow, the women's World Cup tour got to hold adownhill today and - with the course speeding-up almost by the minute -little-known Swiss racer Corinne Imlig led an attack from the back towin by three-hundredths of a second. World Cup rookie Alison Powers(Winter Park, CO) collected her first points as she finished 12th andled all four U.S. skiers into the top 25.
Coverage of the race will be broadcast on Outdoor Life Network nextSunday (March 12) at 7 p.m. EST. Originally, the race was to be a superG, but after snow, fog and poor visibility Saturday thwarted organizersfrom holding a DH, officials agreed to dropping the super G in favor ofthe ninth downhill of the season.
Imlig, who led the only training run the women were able to holdThursday, started 33rd and finished in 1:48.66. That pulled her justpast Petra Haltmayer of Germany, who skied 30th and had a 1:48.69clocking. There was a tie for third with identical times of 1:48.99 forWorld Cup leader Renate Goetschl of Austria and unheralded RussianAlesja Alieva, who started 41st. Overall, six of the first seven andnine of the first 15 started at No. 30 or beyond - and Kirsten Clark(Raymond, ME), who started 29th, was 14th, just behind Powers.
"What a crazy race," U.S. Coach Marjan Cernigoj said. iI was zerodegrees (-17 C.) at race time, but as the race went on, the sun gothigher and things got faster on-course. And the attack from the backbegan.
Powers, who turned 20 in December and has been traveling with the WorldCup group for the past month, came down in 1:49.76 to grab her firstWorld Cup points in a big bunch. Clark, which was fifth when she camedown, was timed in 1:49.98. Caroline Lalive, starting 39th, was 24th in1:50.94 and Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA) was 25th in 1:51.03.
"It went very well," said Powers, the 1999 World Junior ChampionshipsDH bronze medalist (behind Mendes, who won the DH silver in '98 and '99at World Juniors). The Coloradoan has muscled her way into the top U.S.group by winning a Europa Cup super G a day after finishing second inanother Europa Cup SG. Cernigoj and DH/SG Head Coach Jim Tracy have saidseveral times she was, despite her inexperience at the top echelon,close to breaking into the points.
"I had some mistakes from our only training run, which I cleaned up,and today it was a little slower, I think, so it was perfect for me,"Powers said. "I was so excited. There are some flats and rolls beforethe finish and I tried to stay as low as I could."
The snowstorm stopped before dawn and, according to Powers, "It was abeautiful day. No wind, just a beautiful day. I was excited that we gotto race."
Despite the cold at the start, the course seemed to warm quickly. "Atthe end, everybody came down faster and faster," Cernigoj said. "It wascold at the start and then the course began warming up as thetemperature went up degree by degree. The high numbers really tookadvantage of it...and it was a great result, for sure, for Alison. Thislast month, as she's traveled with the World Cup group, her confidencehas gotten better and better.
"But we're happy with the results for the whole team, too. They allskied well, took the opportunity that was presented."
After every skier, he said, "two or three slippers go down, so thatmakes the course smoother and smoother, and faster."
The women's side of the Cafe de Colombia Alpine World Cup moves on toSestriere, Italy, for makeups of races rained out Jan. 29-30 in Zwiesel,Germany. The women race slalom Friday and giant slalom Saturday beforethe World Cup Finals March 15-19 in Bormio, Italy.