LAKE LOUISE, ALTA. (Nov. 29, 2011) – Two young skiers preparing to make their World Cup debuts flew the flag for Canada in the first women’s downhill training run at the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup on Tuesday.
Sarah Freeman, 19, of Pincher Creek, Alta and the Fernie Alpine Ski Team, and Tess Davies, 20, of Canmore, Alta., were both sporting huge smiles after following the likes of USA superstar Lindsey Vonn down the hill.
The bubbly duo, members of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team women’s prospect training group, admitted to feeling some first day nerves as Davies went off course near Fall Away and Freeman went wide, losing valuable time. With training runs also scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, both girls will have plenty of time to get used to their surroundings before the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup downhill races get underway Friday and Saturday.
“There are lots of things I can fix for tomorrow but I’m happy with it. I got the jitters out of the way,” said Davies, who was sporting a fat lip but an even bigger smile after a small hip-slide following her fall. “On Fall Away I lost my downhill ski and when that happens it doesn’t tend to go well!”
Vonn, who won the super-G and was second in the downhill at Lake Louise last year, was over a second-and-a-half faster than her nearest rival in Tuesday’s training run after clocking a time of one minute, 54.79 seconds. Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg (1:56.45) and Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl (1:56.50) were second- and third-fastest, respectively.
Freeman, who was a forerunner in Lake Louise at the last two World Cups and has also competed in Nor-Am Cup races here, finished 60th with a time of 2:05.46.
“The jump was pretty easy and then after Fish Net I didn’t dive down the hill enough. I went really wide and close to the net,” said Freeman. “You have to start somewhere, right?
“My heart was pumping after Fall Away,” she added. “It’s OK, though. First time down!”
“It was a tough first day but we have a long week. We have three training runs and they both know this hill,” Hugues Ansermoz, head coach of Canada’s women’s team, said of Davies and Freeman. “The expectation was not about the time today; it was about showing what they can do on a hill they have been racing and forerunning. The goal this week is just for them to say, at the end of the week, ‘I skied my best.’ ”
Freeman is one of Canada’s most promising young speed skiers. She was ninth in downhill at the 2011 FIS Junior World Ski Championships in February and placed second in downhill at the Canadian championships in Nakiska, Alta., in March.
Freeman was told a while ago that she might get the chance to make her World Cup debut this week but it didn’t start to sink in until a few days ago.
“It wasn’t 100 per cent until we checked into (The Fairmont) Chateau Lake Louise. Then I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is happening,’ ” said Freeman, whose family has an organic cattle ranch in Pincher Creek. “It’s exciting. (Swedish superstar) Anja Paerson wished me good luck going up the chair – that was so cool.”
Nov. 29 – Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup – Downhill training 1 – Lake Louise
Rank Bib Name Year Nation Time
1 15 VONN Lindsey 1984 USA 1:54.79
2 18 REBENSBURG Viktoria 1989 GER 1:56.45
3 13 GOERGL Elisabeth 1981 AUT 1:56.50
4 51 COLETTI Alexandra 1983 MON 1:56.59
5 6 FANCHINI Elena 1985 ITA 1:56.66
6 17 FENNINGER Anna 1989 AUT 1:56.71
6 3 RECCHIA Lucia 1980 ITA 1:56.71
8 1 MARCHAND-ARVIER Marie 1985 FRA 1:56.78
9 20 COOK Stacey 1984 USA 1:56.81
10 2 SCHNARF Johanna 1984 ITA 1:57.04
60 56 FREEMAN Sarah 1992 CAN 2:05.46
DNF: DAVIES Tess (CAN)