Larisa Yurkiw has started 2016 where she left off 2015 – standing on a World Cup podium.
Yurkiw recorded her second straight podium result of the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup season with a second place finish in the sprint downhill in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, following up her third place in the Val d’Isere downhill in December.
Unlike most one-run downhills, a sprint downhill takes into account two runs of a shorter course. It was the first time this race format had been used in 14 years after organizers were forced to lower the start due to insufficient snow conditions in the upper part. Instead of a three kilometre course, it was reduced to 1750m.
Yurkiw’s first run put her in second place, 0.91 of a second behind American Lindsey Vonn and just one-hundredth of a second ahead of Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather. The Canadian was able to hold her position with a strong second run that was just 0.09 slower than Vonn for a total time of 2:12.17, leaving her one second back. For the American star, it was her 36th career World Cup downhill victory, equaling Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s downhill record.
Yurkiw appears to be comfortable on the Kälberloch course. Two years ago it was the site of her first career top-six finish, which she followed up the next day by winning the downhill portion of the super combined. Others could not say the same, struggling with the “Panorama-Kurve” section. Weirather did not complete the second run after skiing out in the same area that had victimized overall World Cup leader Lara Gut of Switzerland in the first run.
“I think it was a bit of a redemption day,” Yurkiw said in a FIS release. “When I was standing in the start, I realized, however many years ago, I won this downhill run in the combined, and I had so much pressure and I totally choked. And I was too young for that, so now I felt like I have the skills to handle myself and I thought I should make sure I come down with a big lead then it’ll be okay.”
Coincidentally, it was at this same resort that Yurkiw made her World Cup debut in 2007 with a 58th place finish in the downhill.
A super-G race is scheduled for Sunday before the ladies’ speed circuit heads to Cortina d’Ampezzo in two weeks.