LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Mikaela Shiffrin won her first World Cup downhill on a course dominated by her American teammate Lindsey Vonn.
Shiffrin is the reigning Olympic and world champion in slalom, but she’s proving to be a threat in speed disciplines with Saturday’s victory in just her fourth World Cup downhill race.
“The biggest thing is I’m learning about the mentality to ski well in downhill and ski the way that I want to,” the 22-year-old said.
Vonn has won 14 downhill and four super-G races in Lake Louise, Alta. After crashing into the safety netting in Friday’s season-opening downhill, she tied for 12th Saturday.
“I think I had a hard time trusting my knee today,” Vonn said. “It’s definitely pretty swollen and wasn’t very happy with me. I’ll go ice it now and hopefully it settles down a little bit more.”
Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany was second and Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin placed third in a race that was delayed and shortened by a power outage at Lake Louise Ski Resort.
A power-line failure in the morning stalled lifts and closed runs for public skiing. Skiers, coaches and course officials were towed behind a snow cat up the mountain.
The women started 460 metres lower than they did in Friday’s season-opening downhill. The race was delayed an hour 15 minutes. A generator provided power for live timing.
“It was definitely weird, but I have to say huge props to Lake Louise for getting this race off,” Vonn said. “They put in a major effort.”
A super-G is scheduled for Sunday.
Saturday’s shortened course was an advantage for Shiffrin, who placed third in Friday’s downhill.
“It was strange, but when they said they were moving the start down, actually for me that was really good because I’m not the fastest on the top flats for sure,” she said.
“Yesterday I was really strong on the bottom part, which is more technical.”
Shiffrin’s winning time was one minute 27.55 seconds. Rebensburg crossed the line in 1:27.68 ahead of Gisin in 1:27.72.
“It’s my first time in Lake Louise. I gotta say I love this place. It’s just breathtaking,” Gisin said. “In one year I got really fast in downhill and to make a podium today is just amazing.”
Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., was the top Canadian in 42nd.
Rebensburg’s strength is giant slalom. She won Olympic gold in 2010 and the first two GS races this World Cup season. She matched a career-best result finishing second Saturday.
“It’s my first podium here and I don’t know how many years I’ve been coming here now,” the German said.
“I was often pretty close to the podium but today everything came together. Hopefully I can win a downhill soon.
“It was really a crazy race, a crazy day, but I really have to thank all the guys working here. They made it possible we could race. It was really a huge job they did.”
Vonn didn’t compete in Lake Louise in 2016 because of a broken arm. Even though she was sore from her crash Saturday, Vonn felt it was important for her to race.
“I’m happy that I got back out there,” the 33-year-old said. “I think it will be good for tomorrow to have the confidence I can do it.”
Shiffrin says she still thinks of Lake Louise as “Lake Lindsey.”
“It’s really cool for me to be here and experience what she’s felt in past years,” Shiffrin said.
“She had a really tough crash yesterday so I can’t imagine she was feeling 100 per cent today, maybe not even 80 or 75 per cent.”
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press