Skier-snowboarder Ledecka leads World Cup downhill training

December 17, 2018
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Czech Republic's Ester Ledecka speeds down the course during the training of a women's World Cup Downhill, in Val Gardena, Italy, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) — Olympic skiing and snowboarding gold medalist Ester Ledecka led the second training session Monday for a World Cup downhill by a comfortable margin.

Competing two days after winning a parallel giant slalom snowboarding event in nearby Cortina d’Ampezzo, Ledecka finished 0.40 seconds ahead of Selva native Nicol Delago of Italy.

Nicole Schmidhofer, the Austrian who won this season’s opening two downhills, was third, 0.43 behind.

“So far so good. But it’s still just a training. All the girls are practicing and looking for the good lines,” Ledecka told The Associated Press. “My first turns on skis were this morning — after two weeks. Because I was just snowboarding.”

At the Pyeongchang Olympics in February, Ledecka won the super-G in Alpine skiing and the parallel GS in snowboarding — becoming the first athlete to win two golds at the same Winter Games using two different types of equipment.

The Czech skier-snowboarder’s best World Cup result in Alpine skiing was a seventh-place finish in a downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta, a year ago.

Ramona Siebenhofer led the opening training session on the Saslong course. The Austrian finished a slim 0.02 seconds ahead of world champion Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia, with Delago third, 0.37 behind.

Siebenhofer was fourth in the second session but she stood up out of her tuck far before the finish.

A third training session is scheduled for Tuesday before the race two hours later, followed by a super-G race on Wednesday.

The races were originally scheduled for Val d’Isere over the weekend but were moved to Val Gardena because of a lack of snow in the French resort.

Overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin is sitting out the races to rest up for a big block of upcoming technical events — her specialty. Lindsey Vonn is out injured.

It’s the first time the Saslong course is hosting women’s World Cup races, having been a classic stop on the men’s circuit for a half-century.

The course was shortened for the women and many of the technical sections were left out, including the camel bump jumps.


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