Goergl leads timely Austrian downhill recovery

Sat Jan 11, 2014 9:39am EST
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By Patrick Lang

ALTENMARKT, Austria (Reuters) - Eclipsed by Lindsey Vonn in recent seasons, Austrian downhill skiers struck back in Altenmarkt when veteran Elisabeth Goergl led up-and-coming Anna Fenninger in a home one-two on Saturday.

Goergl, the 2011 world champion in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, was the last Austrian winner of a downhill almost exactly two years ago, also on home snow in Bad Kleinkirchheim.

Hampered by health problems, she has struggled for form since and started with the number 28 bib on her back as Fenninger was ready to celebrate her first downhill victory.

But the honors finally went to the 32-year-old skier fondly known at home as "Lizz", who won in one minute and 47.45 seconds, beating her 24-year-old compatriot by 0.56 seconds.

"To be honest I'm a little bit surprised myself but it's a piste that suits me and I went for it with boldness and no pressure," Goergl told reporters after her fifth World Cup victory.

Vonn's announcement this week that she would not defend her title in Sochi due to injury has left the race for Olympic gold wide open.

Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch, winner of the two downhills held in Lake Louise in December was a solid third, 0.63 adrift ahead of in-form Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein.

Nicole Hosp, the erratic 2007 World Cup champion, completed the Austrian recovery in fifth place.   Continued...

Anna Fenninger and Elisabeth Goergl of Austria and Germany's Riesch (LtoR) stand on the podium after the World Cup Women's Downhill race in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee January 11, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger