Can't touch this
Montillet crushes strong field to win downhillPosted: Tuesday February 12, 2002 3:18 PM
Updated: Tuesday February 12, 2002 5:27 PM
SNOWBASIN, Utah (AP) -- Carole Montillet became the first French woman to win an Olympic downhill gold medal Tuesday, giving her team an unexpected, emotional lift in a season overshadowed by the death of her close friend Regine Cavagnoud.
Montillet tamed the Wildflower course in one minute, 39.56 seconds to leave pre-race favorites far behind.
Isolde Kostner of Italy finished runner-up in 1:40.01 and Renate Goetschl of Austria took the bronze in 1:40.39 in a race postponed from Monday because of high winds. The start of the race also was delayed more than two hours Tuesday by gusting winds.
Montillet, 28, had never won a medal at a major competition and has only one World Cup victory to her credit, a super-G win last year.
She had a nearly error-free run down the 2,694-meter long Wildflower course to leave other contenders far behind.
"It was so wonderful, I have a lot of emotions," Montillet said. "I don't know if I made mistakes, but I wanted to go fast."
Her victory was salve for a French squad that has been in mourning since the October death of team leader Cavagnoud, killed in an October training accident in Austria.
"It was very difficult, and as a team we wanted to dedicate the Olympics to Regine," Montillet said.
"I still think of Regine Cavagnoud and I will continue to do so. She will always be in my heart and on my mind," said Montillet, who was France's flagbearer at Friday's opening ceremony and was wrapped in a blue, white and red French flag in the finish area Tuesday.
Montillet was a close friend of Cavagnoud, the super-G star who died two days after slamming into a German trainer during a practice run.
Montillet went to San Diego, California, for a few days before the Olympics to get away from the repeated questions about Cavagnoud.
Goetschl, graceful in defeat, described Montillet as one of the "best skiers in the world."
"I am very happy for her. She has gone through some bad luck. She is a good girl," the Austrian said.
Hilde Gerg of Germany was fourth, with Corrine Rey-Bellet of Switzerland fifth.
Picabo Street, trying to become the first American woman to win three Olympic skiing medals, had the best time at the top of the mountain but lost speed in the middle of the course as she fought to control her skis and ended up 16th in the final race of her career.
"I think I gave it all I had today, and what I had wasn't good enough for a medal," Street said.
"But it was a wonderful last day of my career. I don't feel disappointed at all. In my eyes and my heart, qualifying for the Olympics felt like winning a gold medal," Street said.
It was remarkable that Street, 30, was even racing.
A month after her victory in the super giant slalom at the 1998 Nagano games, she broke her left leg and mangled her right knee in a crash and was off skis for 21 months.
After she crossed the finish line, Street stared at the scoreboard in disbelief and then lowered her head. But then she waved both hands to the wildly cheering crowd and blew fans kisses through her helmet.
Street will not defend her Super G title - other Americans have
far better results in that event this winter. She also won the
silver in the downhill at Lillehammer, Norway in 1994.