Alpine skiing-Rolland is surprise downhill gold medalist

Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:16am EST
 

By Manuele Lang

SCHLADMING, Austria (Reuters) - France's Marion Rolland used her knowledge of the course to snatch a surprise downhill gold medal at the world Alpine ski championships on Sunday.

Rolland, remembered for a freak crash at the 2010 Vancouver Games when her knee snapped seconds into the Olympic downhill, won by 0.16 seconds from Italy's Nadia Fanchini with a time of one minute 50.00. German Maria Hoefl-Riesch took bronze.

Rolland can claim to be the first Frenchwoman to win the most prestigious world title, though her compatriot Marielle Goitschel is widely considered as the winner of the 1966 downhill world crown after a gender test the following year showed that the champion on the day, Erika Schinegger, was actually a man. The Austrian was never officially disqualified.

"I wanted a medal here at all costs," Rolland, 30, told reporters. "I gave it my all because I believed in my chances.

"I had good feelings on this piste, which I liked very much since last season," she said.

Rolland has never won a World Cup event but earned her first two podiums last season on Schladming's Streicher piste, finishing second in the downhill behind Lindsey Vonn.

In the absence of the American Olympic champion, who was injured in the opening event of these championships, the downhill race was wide open.

"To win gold is obviously incredible, I dreamt about it like every young athlete. You have to believe in your dreams and your goals and fight hard to reach them," added Rolland, whose grandfather Antonin won two stages of cycling's Tour de France in the 1950s.   Continued...

 
Second placed Nadia Fanchini of Italy (L), first placed Marion Rolland of France (C) and third placed Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany celebrate on the podium during the flower ceremony after the women's Downhill race at the World Alpine Skiing Championships in Schladming February 10, 2013. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger