PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Stephanie Venier set the fastest time in second training for the women’s downhill at the Winter Olympics on Monday but race favourites Sofia Goggia and Lindsey Vonn were close behind.
Austrian Venier, ninth in the World Cup downhill rankings, was the first of the 53 skiers out in the morning sunshine at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre and clocked one minute 39.75 seconds down the 2,775 metre course.
Vonn set the pace in Sunday’s first training session and, going ninth, confirmed her form with a time of 1.40.10 to slot in beneath Venier on the leaderboard until Goggia pushed her into third place with a run of 1:39.83 in bib 17.
Overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin, the Pyeongchang giant slalom champion, was able to manage only the 15th fastest time in 1:41.55, 1.8 seconds off the pace, and walked straight past reporters without speaking.
Her compatriot Vonn did share her thoughts, however.
“I am happy with my training run – I definitely didn’t ski the top very well, lost some time up there. But I think the middle section I skied quite well,” said American.
“Maybe I can make some adjustments on the bottom, I was watching Sofia’s run and she skied a little bit of a different line than I did in a couple of sections.
“So I am going to look at that tonight and do some analysing and see what is actually faster.”
Goggia, who leads the downhill World Cup standings from Vonn after wins in Bad Kleinkirchheim and Cortina d’Ampezzo last month, had a less technical explanation for her run.
“I think it’s not the line, it is how you feel the downhill, how you feel your skis and the set-up,” said the 25-year-old.
“Downhill is about how you connect together and I will try to (bring the) love!”
Vonn, the most successful female World Cup racer of all time, pushed Goggia into second place in the two most recent downhills on the elite circuit at Garmisch-Partenkirchen earlier this month.
The 33-year-old, who won gold in downhill at Vancouver in 2010 but missed Sochi through injury, will be looking to land her first medal in Pyeongchang after finishing joint sixth in the super-G on Saturday.
Swiss Michelle Gisin, whose sister Dominique shared the 2014 downhill gold with Tina Maze, was seventh fastest in 1:40.75 immediately behind Liechtenstein’s super-G bronze medallist Tina Weirather (1:40.66).
Austrian Ramona Siebenhofer was fourth in 1:40.45 with Corinne Suter the fastest Swiss in 1:40.54, the fifth fastest time.
Snowboarder Ester Ledecka, who stunned the Alpine skiing world with her victory in the super-G on Saturday, has not skied in either of the two training runs for the downhill and looks unlikely to compete on Wednesday. (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)