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Lake Louise, Alberta Nov. 29, 2001 (USSA)–Former two-time World Cup downhillchampion Picabo Street (Park City, UT), whose first World Cup came atLake Louise seven years ago, nailed the bottom Thursday and hung-up herbest World Cup result since 1998, finishing sixth in the opening DH ofthe season. She led three other teammates into the top 20 while IsoldeKostner of Italy won her third race at the Canadian Rockies ski area.
Outdoor Life Network will broadcast coverage of the Winterstart WorldCup downhill(s) Dec. 3 at 9 p.m. EST.
“Good day…good — not great — but a good, solid start by everybody,”said downhill Head Coach (and birthday boy) Jim Tracy. “They gave me anice present. I’m pleased with all of them — a big step back for Peekand Jonna and Katie, really big steps, and good steps for Clarky and’Liner’ Lalive and the young ones, who’re paying their dues. We’ve gotthings to clean up, but right now they’re all moving forward.”
“I made a few mistakes, definitely, but bottom line was I had a goodtime running that down hill,” Street, who started eighth, beamed afterfinishing in 1:37.61. She credited “a quick, powerful report” fromCaroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO), who skied No. 1, for helpingset the stage for her and Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA), who started rightbehind in No. 9.
Lalive course report sets stage for successKostner, in collecting her third win — and seventh top-3 — at LakeLouise, finished with a time of 1:36.75. Overall, it’s her 10th victory,all in downhill; she won here last season wearing bib No. 22, the samenumber she wore Thursday. Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister, the defendingdownhill world champion who won the season-opening giant slalom atSoelden, Austria, a month ago, was runnerup in 1:37.08 and Corinne ReyBellet of Switzerland was third in 1:37.26.
Close behind Street were Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) in 11th, Mendes –rebounding from a broken bone in her right ankle — in 13th and Lalivein 19th. Katie Monahan (Aspen, CO), returning after two years on thesidelines with knee injuries, was 33rd, just .05 away from the top 30.
Street gave Lalive a hug in the finish and thanked her for the coursereport. “She said, ‘The light is great. You’ll be able to see more butdon’t let that change your plan. The course is faster. It’s going tocome at you a little bit more, so be ready for that, and just grab yourtuck whenever you can. It’s race day, so let’s race this thing.’ It wasnice, precise, to the point, exactly what Jonna and I needed to hear. Weboth looked at each other afterwards and kind of gave each other a nodand a big high-five in the start…
“It’s been really fun having my team, and that’s something I’m reallyrelying on a lot right now, the support of the team and the camaraderiewe have and the support we give one another. We genuinely hope everybodydoes well and I hope the coaches have a heckuva time trying to pick anOlympic Team in February,” a buoyant Street said.
She had a couple of mistakes at the top, she told reporters in thefinish, “I got off line a couple of times but pulled it back in andthat’s what downhill’s all about. Thank God for the flat bottom becauseI can still glide…whhhewwwww…
Street: “I took advantage…””I nailed the bottom and I knew I had to, so I really skied aggressiveand assertive. I was a little bit angry when I got into the bottom. Ihave a sore spot on my elbow right now because I got real close to acouple of gates and hit ’em. Downhill’s a minute and 40 seconds long,and I took advantage of the whole dang thing. I messed up the top andhit the bottom, and who knows? Maybe tomorrow I’ll do the opposite,” the1998 Olympic super-G and 1996 world downhill champion said.
Clark, who earned her first World Cup win a year ago in Lenzerheide withStreet seventh, overcame two mistakes high on the course, she said,costing her speed as she headed into the flats at mid-race. So, shesaid, she was “psyched” for her result.
“You’ve got to be able to ski those ttechnical sections and especially meI’ve got to be able to nail those sections to be able to carry my speedacross the flats,” she said, noting the 11th in downhill and her ninthin the giant slalom at the Chevy Truck Women’s World Challenge in CopperMountain, Colo., a week ago give her two solid results to start theseason.
Mendes echoed her teammates about being glad to finally have a race. Shedidn’t get to spend much time on snow during the preseason but LakeLouise — where she got her first World Cup points (en route to the 1998Olympics), her first top-20 (’99) and her first top-10 (a year ago)provides a comfort factor as she eases back into racing.
“After you’ve been injured, there’s a coming-back period that you justhafta kinda see how it’s going to go. I needed this first race to say,’Okay, I can get a top-15, no problem. Now, here’s what I’m going to do,this is what I’m capable of. I know it. I needed to get this race undermy belt,” she said, “and now that I’ve got it, I don’t see why I can’tget a top-10 again this year.”
Monahan glad to be back…and healthyLalive said the good weather, which followed two training days in fogand overcast conditions, was fortunate, so she was able to attack asmuch as possible from the No. 1 start. “I’m happy. I made it down. Iskied well and I’m happy,” she said. “I made a little mistake on thetop, which I wasn’t too pleased with, but that’s okay…”
It was a relieved Monahan — a 1998 Olympian who injured her right kneein the first race of the ’00 season — in the finish, conceding she wasglad to be racing and glad to finish. After two seasons out of action,she noted, “This is a good start and it’s only going to get better,” shesaid. “When I get nervous, I just think of how lucky I am to even behere and be doing it…and get things in perspective.”
Women’s Head Coach Marjan Cernigoj agreed with Tracy. “There were a lotof positives today. Peek, Jonna, Katie — all really good…and they allknow they can do better,” he said. “we’ll attack again Friday. Thereare such small margins and you have to pay attention all the way. Thiswas good for the start of the season.”
The women race downhill again Friday and super-G Saturday. They willstick around next week for Nor Am Cup races at Lake Louise. Twodownhills and super Gs are scheduled before they head to Europe.