Women’s Super G
Greta Small kicked off her FIS World Ski Championships campaign with a solid 29th place in the Super G in Vail-Beaver Creek, USA, on day one of competition.
The plucky teenager is once again pushing herself to the limit by competing in all five alpine disciplines, which is the same gruelling schedule she successfully tackled 12 months ago when she represented Australia at her first Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Finishing in the 20s of a 46-woman draw boasting the world’s best alpine racers is a definite sign that the 19-year-old is making steady progress towards achieving her goal of becoming an elite athlete.
The event was won by Austrian Anna Fenninger, who becomes the first reigning Olympic Winter Games gold medallist to win a Super G World Championships title.
Slovakia’s defending World Champion Tina Maze picked up the silver medal while hometown hero Lindsey Vonn added a bronze to her collection of two previous World Championships titles and Olympic Winter Games gold.
Men’s Super G
Last Friday, Sam Roberston kicked off the Aussie male athlete’s campaign with a solid 36th in the Super G.
Robertson,21, said he was rapt with the result, particularly when it is compared with his 55th place in the 2013 World Ski Championships in Schladming, Austria.
Robertson’s run was impressive right from the start gate, skiing the top sector, the steepest, iciest and most technical section, with conviction.
A tactical error just before the Screech Owl jump pushed him off line and into soft snow, with the loss precious speed slowing him through the middle flats before the Golden Eagle jump.
Robertson stopped the clock 3.61 seconds slower than gold medallist Hannes Reichelt from Austria while Canada’s Dustin Cook took home the silver and Frenchman Adrien Theaux finished with the bronze.
The Australian said last Friday that it was one of the best runs of his career.
“I’m super stoked, Robertson said.
“I was nervous in the start but I had one of the best runs of my life and it hasn't really sunk in yet.
“I'm really looking forward to what's ahead.
“A massive thank you to all the coaches I've worked with in the past few years, the Thredbo Ski Racing Club, Thredbo resort, my team mates, Mum and Dad, my sponsors and everyone who has supported me to get here. It wouldn't have been possible otherwise.”
Over the weekend Greta Small finished in 33rd place in the Downhill. Her time was 6.08 seconds behind the winning Slovakian Tina Maze. Austrian Anna Fenninger pocketed the silver medal in a gripping final.
Small experienced difficulties with the bumpy course and was hoping for a higher placing, however, she was pleased that the final showed that she is skiing better compared with the start of the Championships and is able to execute her race plan well.
Small continues her campaign when she tackles the Combined tomorrow (Tuesday, Australian time).
Small starts the event inside the top 15, thanks to an impressive 15th place at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games 12 months ago, which has contributed to a career high world ranking.
Added to her confidence, Small trained brilliantly yesterday.
In yesterday’s last official Downhill training session before the Combined, Small clearly showed why she is regarded as a skier headed towards the top echelon.
Small’s time on the Downhill course placed her in 17th position for the session, her best run of the week, just 3.68 seconds shy of Switzerland's Lara Gut, who finished on the podium in the Downhill event two days ago.
The momentum continued today with Small training on the Slalom course with Italians Elena Curtoni, Francesca Marsaglia, Johanna Schnarf and Elena Fanchini in preparation for the Combined and she impressed with a time that was less than half a second behind the fastest Italian.
With the confidence provided from strong training, starting in the top 15 and a strong tactical plan, Small is aiming to at least replicate her Sochi heroics in the Combined final.
Looking further ahead, Small joins fellow Aussie Lavinia Chrystal in the Giant Slalom on Friday (Australian time).
The Women’s Giant Slalom will also share the limelight with the men’s Giant Slalom qualification session.
Four Australians – Dominic Demschar, Luke Laidlaw, Ross Peraudo and Luc Chevalier – are chasing a position in Saturday’s final.
All four of the Aussie men are capable of finishing in the required top 25 places for the final, provided they ski to their potential.
Laidlaw, Chevalier and Peraudo have been training on the qualification hill this week, while Demschar is expected to arrive at the resort today (Monday Australian time).
Image: Greta Small at the World Championships