Host City: Vancouver, Canada
Venue(s): Whistler Creekside, Whistler
Date Started: February 24, 2010
Date Finished: February 25, 2010
Format: Two runs, total time determined placement.
The eighth alpine skiing event at Vancouver, the women's giant slalom, had several favorites – [Kathrin Hölzl], [Tanja Poutiainen], [Kathrin Zettel], and [Tina Maze]. Six of seven races in the giant slalom World Cup season had been held with Hölzl in the lead after two wins in Aspen and Lienz. Zettel was second with a win in Maribor and Maze was third. Poutiainen, the 2008-09 giant slalom World Cup winner and silver medalist from Torino in 2006, won the first race of the winter in Sölden and also the last World Cup race in Cortina about one month before the Olympics, while [Tessa Worley] won in Åre. Hölzl was also the reigning world champion from Val d'Isère in 2009 where Maze took silver and Poutiainen bronze. Also competing was [Julia Mancuso], the gold medalist from Torino, who had already won two silver medals at this Games in downhill and Super Combined, but the bronze medalist from Torino, [Anna Ottosson], had retired in 2007. Also absent was the 2006-07 giant slalom World Cup winner, 2007 world champion, and fourth-place finisher in Torino, [Nicole Hosp], who sustained an ACL tear in her right knee on 24 October 2009 after a fall in the first race of the season in Sölden.
With fog covering the majority of the upper part of the course, and a large field, the organizers decided to start the skiers on the first run at shorter intervals than would normally be expected. Kathrin Zettel, with a time of 1:58.28, set the early pace, which was then beaten four skiers later by [Taina Barioz] by 0.14 seconds. Barioz held the lead until the 16th skier down, [Elisabeth Görgl], who took the lead by 0.02 seconds. The next racer, downhill winner [Lindsey Vonn], caught an edge in the snow and crashed out of the course. Unfortunately the defending champion, Julia Mancuso, had already started her run when Vonn crashed, so she had to stop around a third of the way down the course. Having to start her run later, and in poorer conditions, a distraught Mancuso could only finish 1.30 seconds behind Görgl in 18th place, effectively ending her chance.
However the drama didn't end there. Deteriorating weather conditions first delayed the start of the second run, then caused its postponement to the following day, the first time this had happened since 1980, when the event was then scheduled over 2 days.
Weather also affected the second run, particularly the later starters. A brave performance by Mancuso, with what was to be the third fastest time of 1:11.24 in the second run, gave her a combined time of 2:27.66, temporarily putting her into the lead and eventually placing her eighth overall. Her lead held for some time until [Fabienne Suter] bettered this time with a combined total of 2:27.52. With six of the top ranked skiers to go, [Viktoria Rebensburg] produced a good run to give her the lead with 2:27.11. Tina Maze, following immediately afterwards, appeared set to take the lead for much of the course, but fell just 0.04 seconds short at the end to move into second place. The overnight leader, Elisabeth Görgl, briefly threatened Rebensburg's time, but finished 0.14 seconds behind to take the bronze medal. The fastest time of the second run belonged to [Denise Karbon], the 2007-08 giant slalom World Cup winner, in a time of 1:11.15, but a poor first run left her down in 23rd place.
Among the favorites, only Maze won a medal with silver. The other medalists were surprises. The 20-year-old Rebensburg had never won a World Cup race before, but had won the Super G in 2008 and 2009, as well as the giant slalom in 2009 at the World Junior Championships. Görgl had only made the team the day before when she bumped out Super G Olympic champion [Andrea Fischbacher] in an Austrian team qualifier. Rebensburg also won the first medal for ski manufacturer Nordica, while Maze won silver with Stöckli, and Görgl bronze on Head skis. Of note in this event is also [Cynthia Denzler], Colombia's first ever competitor in a Winter Games – sadly she did not finish her first run. However she was to have better luck in the slalom a few days later when she finished 51st.
|8||Julia Mancuso||25||United States||USA||2:27.66|
|14||Sarah Schleper||30||United States||USA||2:28.36|
|27||Chemmy Alcott||27||Great Britain||GBR||2:29.94|
|32||Megan McJames||22||United States||USA||2:32.98|
|38||María José Rienda||34||Spain||ESP||2:37.45|
|41||Žana Novaković||24||Bosnia and Herzegovina||BIH||2:40.79|
|45||Macarena Simari Birkner||25||Argentina||ARG||2:42.02|
|46||María Belén Simari Birkner||27||Argentina||ARG||2:42.38|
|49||Kim Seon-Ju||24||South Korea||KOR||2:44.58|
|52||Maja Klepić||21||Bosnia and Herzegovina||BIH||2:50.34|
|57||Gaia Bassani Antivari||31||Azerbaijan||AZE||2:56.87|
|AC||Šárka Záhrobská-Strachová||25||Czech Republic||CZE||DNF|
|AC||Lindsey Kildow-Vonn||25||United States||USA||DNF|
|AC||Petra Zakouřilová||31||Czech Republic||CZE||DNF|