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Disappointing day for Canadian women

U.S. skiers Vonn, Mancuso dominate on rough, tough downhill

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The women's Olympic downhill was nothing short of unforgiving Wednesday, with girls crashing, going off course, landing on one ski in the off-camber sections, getting air off every bump and generally holding on for dear life.

But American Lindsy Vonn didn't seem to be bothered by the rough course and crashes. She put in a near-flawless run down the Franz's course to claim the Olympic downhill title.

Vonn, who was said to be nursing a deep shin bruise, finished in one minute, 44.19 seconds. Teammate Julia Mancuso picked up the silver medal in 1:44.75. Austrian Elisabeth Goergl took the bronze in 1:45.65.

Split times told the story, as only a handful of skiers managed to get faster as the day went on.

At one point Whistler's Britt Janyk was in the lead, more than a tenth of a second ahead of Mancuso. But after going wide on a turn she was dropped off the pace.

"It is a bit of a momentum course," Janyk said. "I think the snow is in great shape so any error, any slip up, and you lose time. I was a little too low on one gate, but when you're in a race you just have to go with it. I was really happy that I was pushing the limits, pushing the line, trying to stay really relaxed on my skis and be in the moment. I wouldn't have changed anything."

Janyk's time of 1:46.21, was good for sixth place. She finished less than half a second off the podium.

After getting one official training run in a soft, slow conditions freezing temperatures overnight and clear skies meant the course was hard, rough and fast. It surprised many of the racers.

The course got bumpier as the race went on, with some of the top-ranked skiers in the world struggling - including past champion Anja Paerson of Sweden, who joined the long list of DNFs after a huge flight ended in a crash just before the finish.

British skier Chemmy Alcott said the crashes only prove how difficult the course can be.

"We've had crashes, DNFs, that's kind of what you want to see, because this course was really hard," she said. "It seemed like you were either in the air or on edge the whole time, you can't relax for a second."

Janyk had similar respect for the course.

"It was tough," she said. "There were always jumps, always terrain, always turns... so you really had to fight to the finish and by the time you get to the finish your legs are a bit tired - but you really need to stay strong right to the finish because it doesn't let up in the last section."

Emily Brydon of Fernie, B.C. was ranked 16th as Pique went to press.

 

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