LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (Reuters) - Lindsey Vonn finished eighth at the season-opening women’s World Cup downhill on Friday, offering a glimpse at how far she has fallen off the pace while recovering from knee surgery.
Almost a year after her last World Cup showing, the four-times World Cup champion finished 0.85 seconds behind Slovenian winner Tina Maze.
The 30-year-old Vonn, almost at home in a resort where she has won 14 World Cup races, will get a chance to close the gap on her rivals with another downhill on Saturday and a Super-G on Sunday.
Maze, the joint gold-medallist in Sochi, clinched her second victory of the season in one minute and 50.98, making it clear that her all-round qualities are intact following her slalom win in Levi last month.
Austria’s Anna Fenninger finished second in 1:51.43 while Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather was third in 1:51.49.
The race also marked the return to competition of 2012 world champion Marion Rolland of France after a year off. She finished nearly two seconds off the pace.
In the men’s World Cup, Kjetil Jansrud extended Norway’s unbeaten run by capturing his third consecutive race in the Beaver Creek downhill.
Winner of both events in Lake Louise last weekend, the 29-year-old Super-G Olympic champion crossed in one minute and 40.17 seconds to build a solid lead in the overall World Cup standings.
”Three out of three for me, four out of five for Norway. There’s nothing to add, I think. I’m lost for words,” he said.
With Henrik Kristoffersen’s victory in a men’s slalom in the Finnish resort of Levi last month, Norway have now won four of five races.
Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who missed the entire 2013 season with knee problems, came second in 1:40.71 for his first podium since early 2012. Third place went to local favorite Steven Nyman, who finished 0.02 seconds behind Feuz.
Jansrud will again be the man to beat in Saturday’s Super-G on the same Birds of Prey course, home of the 2015 world championships in February.
Reporting by Manuele Lang; Editing by Frank Pingue