|Date||17 February 2010 — 11:00|
|Location||Whistler Creekside, Whistler (Franz's Downhill)|
|Participants||44 from 22 countries|
|Course Setter||Jan Tischhauser||SUI|
|Venue details||Gates: 43|
Length: 2939 m
Start Altitude: 1595 m
Vertical Drop: 770 m
Franz’s Run was described as one of the most difficult women’s downhill pistes, a very fast and selective course with some interesting sections like “Deuce”, “Jokers Travers”, and “Frog Bank”. The first training run on Thursday, 11 February was stopped after only two starters when Stacey Cook crashed and was brought to hospital by helicopter, but luckily she was unhurt. The other scheduled training runs were cancelled, but a downhill race needs at least one practice run, so a training session was held on Monday, 15 February, before and after the men’s race. The men’s Dave Murray Downhill and Franz’s Run share the “Hot Air” section and the finish, so there was the curious situation that the training run was divided into two parts. The first part was finished right before the two pistes became one, and when the men’s race was ended the women started again this time from the slalom start and skied the last 20 seconds of their course. This meant that the racers did not hit racing speed at “Hot Air”, which became an important and dangerous fact during the race.
There were only two favorites considered – the close friends Lindsey Vonn and Maria Riesch. Vonn was fastest in the only training run, won the 2009 World Championship title as well as the Downhill World Cup in 2007-08 and 2008-09, and won five of the first six World Cup downhills during the 2009-10 season. Riesch won the last World Cup downhill race before the Olympics in St. Moritz and was also second in the Downhill World Cup. Vonn injured her shin while training only a week before the Olympics, but the postponement of the super combined event gave her time to recover. The gold medalist from Turin 2006 Michaela Dorfmeister retried shortly after those Games. The silver medalist Martina Schild was unable to compete due to injury. She suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear after a fall while training for the last World Cup downhill before the Games. The only World Cup downhill race held on Franz’s Run on 22 February 2008 had been won by Nadia Styger.
The race started at 11 AM with perfect sunny weather and a frozen piste with hard, but bumpy snow. With the first starters it was shown that the course was very difficult and that it would be nearly impossible to run with no problems. The first notable time was set by Austrian Elisabeth Görgl with bib number 5 when she topped the time of Stacey Cook by more than 1.3 seconds. Julia Mancuso in the 10th starting position bettered all of Görgl’s splits and took the lead by 0.9 seconds. With bib number 11 Dominique Gisin crashed at the last jump, the “Hot Air”, and the race was held up for some time. Gisin sustained a concussion and after her fall a snow hill next to the finish line was dug out to increase safety. The first downhiller of the top group was Lindsey Vonn. She took the lead from the first intermediate split to the finish to take the lead. In start position #21, Sweden’s Anja Pärson did a great race when she placed in the top three at all intermediates, but near the finish Pärson was unable to manage a 60 metre jump, and crashed horrifically. She hit hard on her back and slid into the finish area, and the race was held up for a longer time. Pärson was able to walk away, but with contusions of her leg and back. Maria Riesch had to wait until Pärson was rescued and the piste was opened again. After watching multiple crashes, Riesch did not perform at her best and never contended for a medal, finishing eighth.
At the end the top favorite Vonn won gold with an average speed of 101.55 km/hr and was 0.56 seconds or 15.71 metres in front of Mancuso. Surprisingly Görgl, shocked after the crash of Pärson, won bronze exactly 50 years after her mother Traudl Hecher also won bronze in the Olympic downhill at Squaw Valley. The first five finishers skied on four different products: Vonn and Görgl used Head; Mancuso preferred Rossignol; while Andrea Fischbacher was on Atomic and Fabienne Suter on Stöckli.
|29||42||María Belén Simari Birkner||ARG||1:53.62|
|31||38||Macarena Simari Birkner||ARG||1:54.25|