Austria’s Schmidhofer wins Lake Louise downhill

Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria smiles after winning the 2nd women's World Cup downhill at Lake Louise

Lake Louise (Canada) (AFP) – Austrian Nicole Schmidhofer won the women’s alpine World Cup downhill at Lake Louise on Saturday, her time of 1min 49.92sec holding up to a fierce challenge from US superstar Mikaela Shiffrin.

Schmidhofer continued her outstanding form in the Canadian Rockies, where she won both World Cup downhills last season on the way to claiming the World Cup downhill crown.

But three-time overall World Cup champion Shiffrin nearly knocked Schmidhofer off the top step of the podium with a bravura run.

Shiffrin, whose stellar career is founded on her technical prowess, was faster at every split on the course but crossed the finish line in second with a time of 1:50.05 — 13-hundredths of a second behind Schmidhofer.

Italy’s Francesca Marsaglia was third in 1:50.35.

Dual-threat Czech Ester Ledecka, who roared to victory from the 26th starting position in Friday’s first downhill of the season, settled for fourth in 1:50.37.

Ledecka, who won surprise alpine and snowboard gold at the Pyeongchang Olympics, had admitted it seemed like “some mistake” to find herself atop the podium on Friday, when challenging weather conditions saw the Lake Louise course shortened.

She couldn’t force her way onto the podium again, nor could Corinne Suter — who had looked poised to capture Friday’s race before Ledecka powered to victory.

Austrian Stephanie Venier, who finished third on Friday, crashed coming off a jump, flying back-first into the catch fencing.

It was a scary-looking fall, but she was able to rise and ski down to the finish area.

Action continues at Lake Louise on Sunday with a super-G.

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