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Roffe reigns supreme in the super-G

The USA’s Diann Roffe was an experienced competitor by the time she arrived in Lillehammer. She had won a giant slalom world championship gold as a 17-year-old back in 1985, which looked set to herald a remarkable career. But after that stunning start, victories proved hard to come by. She was held back by a couple of serious injuries, and also by the crop of high-quality rivals.

Seven years after striking gold as a teenager, Roffe took an Olympic silver medal in the giant slalom at Albertville 1992, but she came to Lillehammer having not won a major race for nine years. There was a feeling she was still waiting for the defining success that her talent demanded.

Two years earlier, she had been the first skier out of the gate and taken silver. Remarkably fate repeated itself when she drew number one on the list for the super-G in Lillehammer and took to the course for the first time. She crossed the line in 1 min 22.15 secs but, as ever with the opening run, it was very hard to know how good a time that was. Only when the following skiers struggled to match her effort did it become apparent that Roffe had produced something special.

Katja Seizinger would surely have challenged her hard, but fell during her run. Italy’s Isolde Kostner came close, but finished 0.3 secs back, while Sweden’s Pernilla Wiberg was more than half a second off the pace. In the end, the nearest challenger was another surprise contender – Russia’s Svetlana Gladysheva – 0.29 secs slower than Roffe.
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