Annie stayed within reasonably warm pursuit of Nancy Greene when the World Cup competitions got under way in January. That was when Nancy was winning four out of five races in Europe. Annie captured the only one that Greene lost, and also got a second. She then took another, a slalom, in France the week Nancy went home to Canada, and that made it a ball game.
It may turn out that returning home for the month of February and missing some of the World Cup races in Europe will cost Nancy the overall title. It was then that Marielle and Famose passed her. Nevertheless, Nancy Greene went back to a delirious reception in Canada. Her success seemed to give the country its biggest boost since Canada won the world hockey championship in 1961. Just the week before Franconia there was a Nancy Greene Day in Rossland, B.C., where she had been paraded through town on a float, was given the Freedom of the City award and a lifetime membership to the local ski area.
"At first I don't think many of us even knew which events were counting for the World Cup," Nancy said last week. "But then it started to get important, and now I want to win it badly."
Nancy wants it so much, in fact, that it has become difficult to be good friends with Marielle Goitschel.
"We just compete too hard against each other," said Nancy. "But she is the kind of person I would really like to get to know someday when we aren't racing anymore."
Greene and Famose are far friendlier, or one would have to assume so from the fact that Annie brought Nancy two specially made wool caps from France.
Actually, the Franconia races did little to clear up the World Cup muddle among the three girls, only serving to add more weight to the competitions this week and next at Vail, Colo., and Jackson Hole, Wyo.
The World Cup is designed to determine the best racers over a whole season. A racer takes his or her three best results in slalom, giant slalom and downhill—nine in all—and the one with the largest combined total of points is the World Cup champion. The skiers can also be named champions in three individual events, and medals will be awarded for these. For example, all three young ladies arrived in New Hampshire on the brink of winning a medal apiece. Goitschel had won two downhills, Greene two giant slaloms and Famose two slaloms. One more victory in those events would assure them of no worse than a tie for a World Cup medal in those specialties.
The way they began to ski at Franconia, however, left the thousands of New Hampshire spectators wondering what all of the furor was about. After Marielle fell in the downhill Greene finished a deeply disappointing 13th. Famose did grab a third as another French girl, small but powerful Isabelle Mir, sped away from the pack to win.
Since the mountains of New Hampshire are like snowbanks compared to, say, the Alps, it was a short downhill. But it was a good one with varied terrain, a lot of high-speed turns, and bumps—"a good technical course," the racers described it. The French women's coach, Jean B�ranger, said, "It is no surprise that Mir should have won. She and Erika Schinegger [ Austria] are the two best women downhillers in the world now. Marielle is in poor form."