SR Staff Report
Lara Gut-Behrami. Photo: GEPA pictures.
ST. ANTON, Austria — Lara Gut-Behrami beat three Italian skiers Sunday to win a women’s World Cup super-G that ended early due to high winds.
Today the race was able to begin from a higher start. The snow was not ideal, but the FIS and the course crew battled the weather and offered the best surface that nature would allow. The bumpy snow surface, flat light, and course set were a challenge many skiers could not manage. Today’s course was more of a traditional fast super-G set and as long as you remained on the race line, it was good. Those that wandered off the race line found a difficult challenge.
A challenging day for the best
Today’s winner is Switzerland’s Gut-Behrami. She was the seventh racer on the course and skied the difficult run with determination from the start. The veteran Gut-Behrami led from the top and used a pair of fast final sectors to extend her lead over the Austrian Ramona Siebenhofer. She then watched from the leader’s chair as a series of Italian threats could not dethrone her. First, the talented Elena Curtoni, bib eight, fell 0.52 seconds short. Following Curtoni yesterday’s winner Federica Brignone, bib 14, finished second only 0.15 behind Gut-Behrami. The last of the Italian threats came from Marta Bassino who led through the first sector but ended the day, third, 0.19 of a second slower than the winner. It was a dramatic tight race among the women on the podium. However, no one felt comfortable on the course.
After finishing, the Swiss Olympic champion’s body language suggested she was far from happy with her performance. However, her time remained the best after all other favorites had completed their runs.
“It didn’t really go as I planned,” Gut-Behrami said. “In the flat part, I had a lot of mistakes and I never expected to be that fast.”
The Italian runner-up Brignone commented, “I wasn’t able to push as I would have liked or at least as much as I had done in the previous race.”
The Italian women finished the day second, third and fourth place. Notably, they continue to show their team dominance among women’s speed skiers. Notably, superstar Sofia Goggia did not race today. The woman warrior experienced a high-speed awkward crash yesterday.
Goggia opted not to start as a precautionary measure following her crash in Saturday’s super-G. The Italian team said Goggia underwent MRI and CT scans at a clinic in Milan, and that they revealed no damage to her right knee.
The home nation Austria’s best finisher was Siebenhofer in fifth.
The wind canceled the end of the race
Unfortunately, the wind eventually caused an interruption and then cancelation of the remaining portion of the race. After bib 35, the FIS suspended the race, hoping the wind would calm. It did not and they ultimately canceled before the final seven racers competed. USA’s Lauren Macuga and Canada’s Stefanie Fleckenstein were among the seven.
Every finisher scored World Cup Points
A significant part of the story was the considerable number of athletes who could not finish the course. The light was flat and the surface was bumpy. Seven of the first 30 didn’t find the finish, and when the race ended, 17 racers were among the DNFs. Uniquely, all 28 who finished will score World Cup points.
The three North Americans who finished were Canadian Marie-Michele Gagnon in 13th, USA’s Isabella Wright in 19th and Canada’s World Cup GS winner Valerie Grenier finished 24th. All fought to the bottom to finish the difficult race.
Wright said, “It was a really tough day overall. There’s a ton of DNFs today, as you can see, so it was a fight the whole way down. I’m really happy with my skiing down bottom today as compared to yesterday. It definitely wasn’t perfect still today, but I felt like I was attacking more and moving more to the front of the ski, whereas yesterday I was only doing that for about half the run.”
Mikaela Shiffrin did not race this weekend, she is resting after an intense block of technical races. The American is expected back next weekend at the speed races in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
A downhill that was canceled Saturday after days of excessive snowfall in St. Anton and replaced with the shortened super-G has been rescheduled for Cortina on Friday, replacing an initially planned super-G in the Italian Dolomites.
The schedule for Cortina now includes two downhills on Friday and Saturday, followed by a super-G on Sunday.
Analysis of the top three athletes, North Americans who scored and results
Results St Anton Sunday, January 15th women’s super-G
The Associated Press contributed to this report.