Ruiz Castillo gives Spain first downhill win

Sat Feb 23, 2013 8:38am EST
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By Patrick Lang

MERIBEL, France (Reuters) - Carolina Ruiz Castillo put Spain back on the alpine skiing map by winning the women's World Cup downhill in Meribel on Saturday, the first victory in the sport's blue riband event by any Spaniard.

At 31, the Chilean-born skier who trains in France outpaced the leading favorites to clinch her first World Cup victory, 13 years after her only podium to date in a giant slalom in Sestriere.

Ruiz Castillo won in one minute 42.56 seconds to bridge a seven-year gap since the last top spot earned by compatriot Maria Jose Rienda Contreras in a giant slalom in Hafjell seven years ago.

It was almost a home win for popular speed specialist Ruiz Castillo as she regularly trains with the French team and had the chance to practice on the Meribel course, which had not been used on the World Cup circuit for 19 years.

"It's a formidable achievement after all the commitment and hard work for so many years in difficult conditions," she said.

"Fortunately, this year I had the opportunity to train well with the French and I knew I had the potential as I'm really strong in practice.

"It's a great day for me as the conditions suited me ideally," the Spaniard added referring to the smooth technical course.


Carolina Ruiz Castillo of Spain reacts after winning the Women's World Cup Downhill skiing race in Meribel, in the French Alps, February 23, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Pratta