BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - A Super-G victory at last year’s Winter Olympics freed Anna Fenninger from the shackles of self-doubt and the Austrian has gone on to claim two medals at the alpine ski world championships.
Fenninger won the championship-opening Super-G on the challenging Raptor racecourse on Tuesday, then followed up with an impressive second place in the women’s downhill on Friday when she finished just 0.02 seconds behind Slovenia’s Tina Maze.
“Today I was so close to the win,” the 25-year-old Austrian told reporters after skiing superbly down the plunging Raptor piste in dazzling winter sunshine to post the fastest time before being pipped by Maze.
”Tina was better today and had a really good run. I was a bit emotional at the finish when I was one second in the lead and then big emotion when Tina came down to win. It was very tight.
“I‘m really happy that I can take the silver because in the downhill it was always so difficult for me at the world champs and Olympics that I can show my (good) skiing. But today was perfect.”
Though Fenninger had been crowned world champion in the super combined at Garmisch in 2011, she had mainly struggled in skiing biggest events since 2009.
At the 2014 Sochi Games, however, she rebounded from a disappointing eighth place in the super combined and a failure to finish the downhill with her first Olympic gold medal, in the Super-G.
“Last season at the Olympics I felt I was so ready for a title and I struggled in the downhill and really had a hard time in the Super-G,” the reigning overall World Cup champion said.
”Then I won the (Super-G) gold and at that moment, for me, it was like winning the most important race in my career.
“So now, everything that will follow is good. I can’t lose. I won the most important race so now I do not feel the pressure. I just try to ski my best.”
This week, Fenninger has certainly been skiing at her best while finishing in the top two at the first two events, alongside her good friend Maze.
“We are always traveling together and seeing each other the whole winter and trying to fight for the win,” said Fenninger. “We meet all the time on the podium and that’s why we are friends.”
Editing by Gene Cherry