Schmidhofer takes Lake Louise downhill for 1st World Cup win

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              Nicole Schmidhofer, of Austria, skis down the course during the women's downhill World Cup ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) — Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria captured the downhill race at Lake Louise on Friday to earn her first World Cup victory.

The 29-year-old finished in a time of 1 minute, 48.13 seconds to beat Michelle Gisin of Switzerland by 0.15 seconds. Kira Weidle of Germany wound up third in a race that was missing Lindsey Vonn, who’s recovering from a training crash that injured her knee. Although she planned to retire after the season, Vonn posted Friday that she intends to race at Lake Louise next season. It’s her favorite venue.

Schmidofer’s best World Cup finish before Friday was second in a super-G race on Jan. 20, 2013, in Italy. She won the super-G at the 2017 world championships in Switzerland.

“I never dreamed it will be a downhill,” Schmidhofer said. “I thought it would be a win, it would be a super-G. I’m very surprised it’s a downhill and in Lake Louise.”

Racing No. 1, Gisin thought she just might be the one to earn her first World Cup individual win. It wasn’t until Schmidhofer at No. 15 that Gisin was bumped from the top spot.

There’s another downhill Saturday — another chance for Gisin.

“Well, maybe,” said Gisin, who won Olympic gold in the combined at the Pyeongchang Games. “Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in a couple of weeks. Maybe in a couple years. You never know. You need a lot of luck, too. I will try as long as I can. For sure, Schmiddy will be the girl to beat.”

Gisin has only been racing speed events for a few seasons. She’s being accompanied around the circuit by her older sister, Dominique, who wound up third on two occasions in the downhill at Lake Louise.

“She can tell me so much. She can tell me how it feels,” Michelle Gisin said. “That’s the thing that helps me so much.”

Two-time World Cup overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin was ninth. She won her only World Cup downhill race at the venue last season.