Dorfmeister finally gets gold
First Austrian woman to win Olympic downhill since 1980
By Bob Barnett
SAN SICARIO, Italy – Eight years ago in Nagano Michaela Dorfmeister missed an Olympic gold medal by .01 seconds.
The Austrian finally got the only title missing from a stellar career today at San Sicario, setting the fastest time at every interval on the Fraiteve course and finishing .37 seconds ahead of Swiss surprise Martina Schild.
“That elusive medal was probably the thing that kept me skiing,” said Dorfmeister, who announced in December she will retire at the end of the season.
She currently leads the World Cup downhill standings. She also won the overall World Cup title in 2001-02 and is a former world champion in both downhill and super G.
“That is a special satisfaction to beat the young ones,” said the 32 year old. “I’m very proud to be the first Austrian since Annemarie Moser-Proell to win a medal in (an Olympic) downhill.
“It is like a dream. I didn’t sleep for two nights because I was under so much pressure. But this morning I felt very relaxed and when I took the lift to the start I said ‘Today I’ll do it.’”
Sweden’s Anja Paerson, another favourite, won the bronze medal, .64 seconds behind Dorfmeister.
Canadian hopes had been high following the final training run Tuesday, which was won by Kitchener, Ontario’s Kelly Vanderbeek. Fernie’s Emily Brydon was 10 th in the final training run while holding back. Earlier she had called the Fraiteve course “Emily-friendly,” but it wasn’t the case today.
Brydon was the top Canadian, finishing 20 th . Vanderbeek, who had a big contingent of fans in the crowd, was 24 th , Shona Rubens 26 th and Sherry Lawrence 27 th .
“Obviously after the training results yesterday we were having some high hopes for today,” said Max Gartner, Alpine Canada’s chief athletic officer. “Kelly had the fastest run on this hill, of all the (training runs), but the conditions changed overnight. It was overcast, which brings a whole different element into the game. All of a sudden you can’t see everything and you need to be approaching it a little bit different. I think the changing conditions are probably what made the difference.”
“What happened today? What didn’t happen today?” Brydon sighed.
“What didn’t happen today was I didn’t perform to my abilities and to my expectations and to what I know I can (do). Why I didn’t I don’t know.
“I think that I went in 100 per cent prepared mentally, physically. Everything I needed was in front of me. Why I didn’t step up to the plate, I don’t know. It’s a hard question. There’s been a lot of people ask that question today.
“It’s the Olympic Games; they’re special. That’s not an excuse at all. I think that if anything I should learn to take advantage of that. I know that I’m strong mentally and I’m strong physically and why I didn’t step up to the plate today I don’t know.”
Brydon, who will race in Friday’s combined and Sunday’s super G, was clearly frustrated by her result in the downhill.
“It’s frustrating for me because I know for myself, there’s a lot more potential in there than I showed today,” she said.
“But it’s not only about yourself, I’m here representing Canada and you always want to do well and represent your country well, so that’s a hard pill to swallow.”
After a bit of searching, she also found reason for optimism.
“Whenever I do well I’m at the end of my string so maybe something will happen, because I’m getting pretty near the end of it.”