By the U.S. SKI TEAM
The host nation for the 2011 World Championships served notice Saturday, Oct. 23 that it was prepared for the biggest event outside of the Olympics.
Olympic giant slalom champion Viktoria Rebensburg led a one-two German finish in the opening event of the 2010-11 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season at Soelden, Austria.
Torino Olympic GS champ Julia Mancuso, 26, of Squaw Valley, Ca. paced the U.S. Ski Team finishing 12th. Lindsey Vonn, 26, of Vail, Colo. placed 18th and Sarah Schleper, 31, of Vail had the fourth fastest second run, in 19th.
"It's nice to get the first race out of the way," said Mancuso. "I skied solid and I stayed on my feet. It was a good start to the season."
Overcast weather, near-freezing temperatures and interesting snow conditions didn’t deter Germany’s Rebensburg. Saturday she proved her recent Olympic gold wasn’t a fluke. She captured her first World Cup in 2:26.39.
With a roaring crowd of over 10,000 spectators cheering, the field fought through challenging conditions with bib position playing a big role in the first run. The pitch began to break down for later numbers.
The U.S. women, although disappointed in their performance, laid down solid second runs leaving a desire for improvement at the next World Cup Nov. 13-14 in Levi, Finland.
Vonn, who had a bobble followed by a balanced recovery in the first run, and fellow teammate Schleper significantly picked up the pace in the second run. Schleper and Vonn posted the fourth and fifth fastest times separated by just one hundredth.
"Today wasn't my best day. I was expecting a lot more because I've been training really well," said Vonn, in the best physical shape of her career. "It was the first run jitters. I skied pretty conservatively. And it was definitely challenging with the snow conditions.”
The men kicked out of the start gate Sunday to open their men's Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Season. However, fog enveloped the glacier and forced the race cancellation because of poor visibility.
Defending GS champion Ted Ligety of Park City was within .02 seconds of Frenchman Cyprien Richard’s first-run lead when officials called the race. It will not be rescheduled.
The U.S. Ski Team headed to Colorado for early-season stateside training before heading to Europe for the first slalom of the season during mid-November in Finlansd.
Then it’s on to Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada (speed races for men) and Aspen, Colo. (tech races for women) over Thanksgiving weekend.