BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Austria’s Anna Fenninger opened the world championships in spectacular style by adding the Super-G gold to her Olympic crown on Tuesday and stealing the spotlight from American ski queen Lindsey Vonn.
The event was pushed back 30 minutes and the start lowered due to high winds on the Raptor course but Fenninger would not be distracted clocking a time one minute, 10.29 seconds down the blustery piste.
Fenninger topped an impressive leaderboard with double Sochi Olympic gold medallist and defending champion Tina Maze of Slovenia crossing .03 behind to grab second and Vonn, the most successful women’s ski racer of all time, taking third.
“It was a really amazing moment, I was dreaming about that moment because I had (start) 22 today, I was dreaming about that and it comes true,” said Fenninger. “I was watching all the girls until 10 and I saw it was a challenging course and windy.
“It was difficult, I didn’t recognize that Lindsey or Tina are in front, I was just focused on me and it worked.”
While gold went to Fenninger the day belonged to hometown girl Vonn, who grew up in the Vail Valley honing the skills that put her on top of the podium more times than any other women’s alpine skier.
With International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and boyfriend Tiger Woods looking on from the finish area, Vonn triggered a massive roar from the packed grandstands as she pushed out of the start hut.
The excitement faded as Vonn trailed by 0.28 seconds at the first interval and by nearly a half-second at the second but she mounted a dazzling charge down the bottom half.
When she crossed the finish line the crowd exploded as her named topped the leaderboard, the American skier turning to the pulsating grandstand and punching both hands into the air.
But the celebration was short-lived as Maze, the next racer onto the course, bumped her from top spot.
In many ways, Vonn’s bronze could be taken as victory.
“I’m disappointed but at the same time I’m happy, said Vonn, who returned to action this season after a year out following a high speed crash at the 2013 championships that left her racing future in doubt. “A world championship medal is always a good thing.”
Editing by Frank Pingue