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The final race got off to a rocky start. The event was delayed for two hours due to fog and low visibility. Rather than stand in the cold, we decided to make the best of things and headed over to the Milka booth for a sample of their free hot chocolate and some cookies. Then we wandered around the booths for the main sponsor, Audi, and a variety of ski companies to check out new gear.
When the race finally began, Slovenia’s Tina Maze headed down the hill first. She came speeding through the finish, and led the pack with a time of 1:07.05. For the rest of the first race, no one would have a run that would beat her time. Other competitors, such as Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl and Frederica Brigogne of Italy, were close. Sadly for me, American Julia Mancuso trailed behind with a time of 1:08.82.
We burned up some time in between races following Reisch off the slopes. As she walked away, she left a trail of squealing boys and girls behind her who were thrilled that she took the time to stop and give them an autograph. She even surprised a trio of girls, who had their backs turned, with signed photos of herself in her German racing uniform.
The second run of the competition, in which the times for the first and second run are combined to produce the first-place winner, started without a hitch. The top 54 finishers qualified for the second round. Reisch, the local favorite, didn’t finish the second run due to a fall while U.S. favorite, Mancuso, finished in 11th place. The pace was set, once again, by Maze, but she was challenged by Brigogne, who beat Maze’s 1:13.49 second run with a speedy finish of 1:13.24. However, Brigogne’s combined score was still behind Maze’s stunning first-place finish during the first race, and Maze took home the top prize.
After the race, all I wanted to do was head up the gondola to make my own turns on the hill, but we were driving to Rupholding to check out the world-class cross-country and biathlon training facility at the Chiemgau Arena where the 2012 IBU Biathlon World Championships will be held. Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting and, here, we had the chance to take a shot at the targets the pros use. I can proudly report that I hit four out of four targets.
Our world-cup sporting tour made a final stop in Berchtesgaden at the Konigssee bobsleigh, luge and skeleton track to watch the FIBT Bobsleigh World Championships. Bobsleighing, or bobsledding as it is referred to in the U.S., is a much more up-close spectator sport than I would have imagined. At the Konigssee track, spectators can stand inches from where the bobsleds whiz by at speeds up to 110 miles per hour. Needless to say, this was one of the most exciting events that we saw during our visit. Also exciting was the fact that the U.S. women took second place.
With all the world cup action taking place in Bavaria, winter sports-lovers are going to be dying to check out the action.
The U.S. women took second at the FIBT Bobsleigh World Championships. // © Janeen Christoff