Surprise World Cup victory for Swede Anja

Sweden's Anja Pärson, known more as a technical skier, surprised herself by winning the women's World Cup downhill race in the Austrian resort of Bad Kleinkirchheim on Friday.

Pärson, 24, achieved her fourth win of the World Cup season as she clocked 1min 37.70sec, with Austria’s Michaela Dorfmeister timing 1:37.74 and Franzi Aufdenblatten of Switzerland managing 1:37.78.

It was Pärson’s 30th career success.

She said afterwards: “I’m really surprised by my victory. I really gave it my all, took a lot of risks and it worked. But I know I still have a lot of work to do in this event.”

Pärson, the overall World Cup winner last season and known for more for her slalom and giant slalom prowess, won on a very icy course ahead of pure downhillers such as Dorfmeister and Switzerland’s Sylviane Berthod.

It was Pärson’s first downhill win since February last year.

Her victory hung on her negotiating a bend at midpoint better than her competitors. The turn proved disastrous for Berthod, the fastest till that “S”-shaped bend, and for Lindsey Kildow of the USA, who has won two downhills already this season.

This first downhill at Bad Kleinkirchheim – there’s a second one on Saturday – claimed another victim in triple Olympic champion Janica Kostelic of Croatia.

Kostelic, the reigning downhill world champion, looked as though her first World Cup win in the speciality was within her grasp but she lost too much time on the lower part of the course to take fourth spot, 0.09 seconds behind Pärson.

Anja Pärson is one of the nominees for the Swedish sportswoman of the year at the Swedish Sports Gala. The event will be screened on SVT1 on Monday January 16th at 8pm.