Austria’s Nicole Schmidhofer wins Lake Louise women’s World Cup downhill

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Nicole Schmidhofer claimed the first World Cup victory of her career Friday by winning the season-opening downhill.

The 29-year-old Austrian was the fastest woman in the final training run and carried her speed over into the race in Lake Louise, Alta.

“I never thought my first World Cup victory will be a downhill and for sure not in Lake Louise,” Schmidhofer said.

She was third in super-G in 2017. In a decade of racing downhills at the Alberta ski resort, however, Schmidhofer had never finished higher than eighth.

“In recent years, the jumps were bigger and higher and a little bit of a problem for me,” the five-foot-two racer said. “This year, I saw the slope and maybe the chances will be better.

“I thought ‘make it like training from the top to the bottom.”’

Schmidhofer posted a top time of one minute 48.13 seconds in flat light because of cloudy skies.

She won super-G gold at the 2017 world championship, but her best World Cup result prior to Friday was a super-G silver in 2013.

Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin, the first woman to kick out of the start hut Friday, was second in 1:48.26.

“I really wanted to take bib one because when we start really late, it’s good to get down early,” Gisin said. “The visibility wasn’t really good for anyone, so I’m super-glad I did a great run.”

Germany’s Kira Weidle was third, half a second back of Schmidhofer, for the 22-year-old’s first podium.

“It means a lot to me,” Weidle said. “Last year I was eighth here in Lake Louise, which was already good, but I’m really happy to do one step forward and be on the podium. That’s crazy.”

Another downhill is scheduled for Saturday followed by Sunday’s super-G.

So Schmidhofer’s celebration of her first win in 128 World Cup starts was going to be mellow.

“Not beer because tomorrow is also a race,” she said. “Good coffee and cake.”

Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, who swept both downhills in 2016, was sixth in her first start in over a year. The reigning women’s world downhill champion did not race in 2017-18 because of a knee injury.

Defending overall World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. was ninth.

Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., was the top Canadian in 35th.

“I brought some intensity to my ride,” said the 22-year-old Remme. “It was tough with the lighting because of the clouded skies. Every time I see the track, I feel that I learn something new.”

The women’s speed season opened without stars Sofia Goggia of Italy, the reigning Olympic downhill champ, and American Lindsey Vonn.

Goggia fractured her ankle in training in October. Vonn injured her knee in a training fall in November.

Vonn has won a record 18 World Cup races at Lake Louise, including 14 downhills.

Although the 34-year-old has said this season will be her last, Vonn announced Friday she intends to return to Lake Louise in 2019 for one more series of speed races.

“I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t take that one last chance to push out of the starting gate in Lake Louise,” Vonn said.

With 82 career World Cup wins, Vonn is five away from the record held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark.

Shiffrin’s best ski discipline is slalom as the owner of back-to-back Olympic titles.

But the 23-year-old showed downhill talent in Lake Louise last year when she was first and third.

“I’m an everything racer,” Shiffrin said. “I’m definitely racing in every event. My biggest thing is I’m still trying to get experience and understanding all the different intricacies of what can make you faster or slower.

“There’s still so much that I still have to learn, but I’m feeling better and better on my skis so it’s kind of time on the skis and time on the tracks and getting used to that.”

Valerie Grenier of St-Isidore, Ont., was 36th and Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac Etchemin, Que., was 44th.

In Beaver Creek, Colo., Ben Thomsen of Invermere, B.C., placed 38th in a men’s downhill.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce announces business of the year winners

All finalists ‘displayed courage’ this year, says chamber CEO

More than 400 COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta Wednesday, according to multiple reports. (File photo)
Over 400 additional COVID-19 cases Wednesday

3,372 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta

A 47-megawatt solar power project has been proposed for a site southwest of the Nova Chemicals petrochemical complex.
Map contributed
$52-million solar power project proposed for Joffre

Project to be built southwest of Nova Chemicals plant could be producing power by the end of 2021

AnnaMarie Lea, artistic director of Lacombe’s Cow Patti Theatre, thinks a lot of people would love to focus on something other than the pandemic, with a few hours of entertainment. (Contributed photo).
Some Red Deer-area shows will go on — with new pandemic precautions

Some theatrical productions are happening under new rules

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer will be at the legislature Thursday to urge members of the UCP caucus to drop the plan to consolidate EMS dispatch by Jan. 4. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Red Deer mayor takes EMS consolidation fight to Edmonton

Mayors of Red Deer, Lethbridge, Calgary and Wood Buffalo to address UCP caucus on Thursday

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

Tampa Bay Rays' Brandon Lowe rounds the bases after a home run off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin during the first inning in Game 2 of the baseball World Series Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Lowe homers twice, Rays hold off Dodgers 6-4 to even Series

Mighty Heart is held outside trainer Josie Carroll's stable by exercise rider Des McMahon, as the colt is washed down after being breezed at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto on October 15, 2020. Mighty Heart will make his Triple Crown quest from the the No. 8 post Saturday. The Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales champion was named the even-money favourite in the draw Wednesday for the $400,000 Breeders' Stakes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Mighty Heart to take run at ending Triple Crown drought in $400,000 Breeders Stakes

Mighty Heart to take run at ending Triple Crown drought in $400,000 Breeders Stakes

Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro watches during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Friday, February 24, 2017/ Short on specifics and long on bullishness, Shapiro set an optimistic tone during his first general media availability since the team was eliminated from the post-season a few weeks ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro short on specifics, long on bullishness

Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro short on specifics, long on bullishness

Liverpool's Fabinho, saves from the goal line after a header from Ajax's captain Dusan Tadic from scoring during the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Liverpool at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Real Madrid beaten again, Bayern surges in Champions League

Real Madrid beaten again, Bayern surges in Champions League

Toronto Wolfpack captain Josh McCrone raises the Betfred Championship Trophy alongside teammates after defeating the Featherstone Rovers in the Million Pound Game in Betfred Championship rugby league action in Toronto on October 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Financially troubled Toronto Wolfpack could learn fate soon as early as next week

Financially troubled Toronto Wolfpack could learn fate soon as early as next week

Kansas City Chiefs' Demarcus Robinson (11) holds off Buffalo Bills' Tre'Davious White (27) as Bills' Justin Zimmer (61) also pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Bills defence looks to rebound after consecutive losses

Bills defence looks to rebound after consecutive losses

CPL champion Forge FC ready for CONCACAF League opener in El Salvador

CPL champion Forge FC ready for CONCACAF League opener in El Salvador

Most Read