February 20, 2018 / 4:55 AM / 4 months ago

Siebenhofer fastest, Vonn on pace in downhill training

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Austrian Ramona Siebenhofer set the pace in the final training run for the women’s downhill on Tuesday and Lindsey Vonn’s bid to reclaim the Olympic gold remained on course as she registered a top-five time for the third day in a row.

Feb 19, 2018; Pyeongchang, South Korea; Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT) during training for the ladies' downhill alpine skiing race during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Siebenhofer clocked one minute 40.67 seconds to top the timesheets with Swiss Michelle Gisin, whose now retired sister Dominique shared the 2014 downhill gold with Tina Maze, and Italian Nadia Fanchini 0.2 and 0.21 seconds further back.

American Vonn went out first, as she did when finishing sixth in the super-G last week, and raced down the Jeongseon slope in an impressive 1:40.96.

The 33-year-old, who won gold in Vancouver eight years ago but was unable to defend her title in Sochi because of injury, would have been disqualified in a race for missing one gate but was generally happy with her preparations.

“Everything feels pretty good, I definitely was trying a few things with line,” she told reporters.

“The reason I missed that gate was that I didn’t slip the line right, number one hasn’t been a good number for me. But I am not worried about it all.

“I think I will choose, I need to look at the video but some of the lines I took today were a little bit faster. But I am happy, solid training.”

Downhill World Cup leader Sofia Goggia appears to be the main threat to Vonn’s hopes and the Italian was not too far off the pace in 1:41.28, the 11th fastest time.

Goggia said she thought Vonn remained the race favorite.

Feb 19, 2018; Pyeongchang, South Korea; Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT) during training for the ladies' downhill alpine skiing race during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s not about putting that on her, it’s just she has so much experience,” she said.

“She has 81 World Cup victories, she has 131 podiums etcetera, medals both at world championships and Olympics. It’s like she has already made this, she knows how to do it.”

Only one of the medalists from the other speed race, the super-G, will compete on Wednesday with shock champion Ester Ledecka turning her attention to her snowboard events.

Anna Veith, who won silver in the super-G, decided not to race in the downhill and returned home on Tuesday, an Austrian team official said.

Tina Weirather, who took bronze, opted not to take advantage of the final training run on Tuesday but will start third in Wednesday’s race.

Goggia will be the fifth skier to take to the piste while Vonn got her wish to go out behind the Italian but in the top 10 and will start seventh ahead of compatriot Breezy Johnson and Sochi bronze medallist Lara Gut.

“I like knowing what times my competitors get and how they are skiing,” Vonn said before the draw.

Alpine Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's Downhill Training - Jeongseon Alpine Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 20, 2018 - Ramona Siebenhofer of Austria trains. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Mikaela Shiffrin, who decided to pull out of the downhill on Monday, took advantage of the final training run to prepare for the combined, which has been brought forward to Thursday because of forecast high winds.

The American, who won the giant slalom last week, showed again that she will be a force to be reckoned with by setting the fifth fastest time of 1:41.01, also missing the same gate as Vonn.

Editing by Ed Osmond

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