With four previous podiums in the early part of the World Cup season, it was only a matter of time before Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather picked up her second career win — and she did so Saturday as the women’s alpine tour returned to Europe for a super G in St. Moritz, Switzerland. She now joins her mother, Hanni Wenzel, and Ursula Konzett as the only women from her home nation with multiple World Cup victories.
Under sunny skies, a technical set challenged many of the racers, and without a downhill scheduled this weekend, the ladies were unaided by training runs typical before speed events. They had to settle for just a freeski session on the race slope yesterday. For some, the less aggressive European snow, compared to North America, may have also required an adjustment after six weeks in some cases of training and racing on the left side of the pond.
It certainly was not a problem for Weirather, who trains with the Swiss team and was possibly able to hone in on some local knowledge, appearing to work and flow with the hill more naturally than the rest of the field. Weirather accelerated throughout her run and finished with a comfortable 0.31-second lead over runner-up Kajsa Kling, of Sweden, who surprised the field racing from bib 44 to take second on the day, just barely knocking Austria’s Anna Fenninger to third. It marked Kling’s first World Cup podium finish, her previous best result being seventh last week in Lake Louise. Kling now has three top-10 results this season, all starting from bib 44 or higher.
After 15 racers, it was all about the Austrian federation, which occupied the top four spots. They were ultimately able to hang on to three of the top five with Elisabeth Goergl managing to both crack the top five and pass the equipment inspection after the race. (She had a podium result taken away in Beaver Creek due to illegal ski dimensions two weeks ago.) Coming off a podium result in Beaver Creek, Nicole Hosp was neck and neck with her teammate, Goergl, but lost time toward the bottom and finished fifth on the day.
For the struggling American speed team, which appeared to regain some form at the super G in Lake Louise last weekend, the results were mixed at best. On the bright side, downhiller Stacey Cook, whom one wouldn’t necessarily pick for success on this technical course, raced from bib 37 to 16th position, her best super G result since 2008.
“Last year I got between 25th and 30th in every super G race, and it just really doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to kind of get the bigger points, so I’ve just been on a mission all summer to get better at super G,” said Cook. “I’ve been okay at it for too long, and I’m ready to step it up. So the big move ups are the first step, and then I’m trying to get in that top 30 starting position and get some better starts. Then hopefully some top 10s and maybe some top 5s by the of the year.”
After leaning in on a tricky turn that gave many of the girls trouble, Leanne Smith skidded out and slid down the hill, failing to complete the course. She skied off uninjured. Julia Mancuso didn’t appear to be in the hunt for a competitive run at any point on the course — she lost time throughout and finished the day in 20th. Laurenne Ross scrubbed super hard early in her run but again did not appear comfortable on her skis — she originally finished 40th but was later disqualified for an equipment infraction.
“(The schedule) is different, for sure. When there’s so many years that run the same, you do actually get in a pattern. One of the things that’s been a pattern for me is doing well in Lake Louise, and that didn’t quite happen this year,” noted Cook. “It’s just been adapting. I think maturity definitely helps with that, and getting older, and just being ready for every race.”
There was, however, great news for North American race fans as Marie-Michelle Gagnon appears to be making a run at a third discipline. After a career-best SG result of 10th in Lake Louise one week ago, the Canadian technical specialist was able to improve on that mark, finishing sixth on the day.
“I’m in this magical zone right now and I don’t want to overthink it,” said Gagnon. “I’m feeling confident in every discipline.”
Gagnon is the first Canadian alpine skier to punch her ticket to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games by meeting the nomination criteria.
“Once again I was kind of surprised. I thought, ‘Maybe I was 10th in Lake Louise because of the home crowd.’ I know I’ve been skiing well but I haven’t had a lot of time to ski super G,” added Gagnon. “It’s really exciting. I’m attacking like I do in giant slalom. I’ve got skis this year that are a little bit stiffer and I’ve got a lot more power. I’m not afraid of speed and I’ve always loved super G but I’m skiing it well and clean and fast. I feel like I’m building.”
Head Canadian women’s coach Hugues Ansermoz was equally pleased with Gagnon’s skiing.
“Incredible. Incredible day,” he said. “She’s so confident right now. It was absolutely awesome. She has been training well, she had a good summer and made progress in her technical skiing, but it’s just the confidence.”
Area local Lara Gut, who has tapped the podium in three separate disciplines this season and holds and early lead in the overall World Cup standings, charged hard out of the gate and skied an aggressive line. The Swiss was hard on her edges toward the bottom and wasn’t able to carry momentum through to the finish. She skied to seventh.
And the troubles continued for last season’s overall champ Tina Maze, who made an odd mistake, completely misjudging the line and aiming for a gate that simply wasn’t there, albeit on a turn that gave many of the athletes trouble. The Slovenian appeared rattled and was seen in the finish area projecting a death stare off into space while Andrea Massi, her boyfriend and coach, made efforts to console her.
View complete photo gallery here.
By Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup super G, St. Moritz, Switzerland, Dec. 14, 2013
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Weirather, Atomic/Tecnica/Atomic
6 Gagnon, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
7 Gut, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9 Worley, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
10 Mowinckel, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Women’s World Cup super G, St Moritz, Switzerland, Dec. 14, 2013. … It is the ninth of 32 races on the women’s 2013-14 World Cup schedule… the third of seven scheduled super G’s. … It is the 42nd World Cup hosted by St. Moritz and the 11th World Cup super G held at the site, all of them women’s races. … Three of the four remaining super G’s on the women’s schedule should be held prior to the Olympics.
It is the second career World Cup win for Tina Weirather, the first since March 1, 2013 when she won a super G at Garmisch. … She matches Marco Buechel for the Liechtenstein Cup SG win mark.
It is the first World Cup carer podium for Kajsa Kling. … Her previous best placing had been seventh at Lake Louise Dec. 8. … She has three top-10 finishes all coming this month.
It is the 21st career World Cup podium result for Anna Fenninger and her fourth of the season. … In seven races completed this season she has finished no worse than fifth.
It is a career best World Cup SG result for Marie-Michele Gagnon, topping the tenth scored at Lake Louise earlier this season. She is three placings off her career best in any discipline (3rd SL March 10, 2012) in Are, Sweden. … It is the fifth best career SG finish for Stacey Cook and easily her best result at St. Moritz. … It is her best SG finish since 2008. … It is the 13th top 20 for Julia Mancuso at St. Moritz, her fifth best SG at the site.
Lara Gut (seventh in race) maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 482-445 over Weirather. … Maria Hoefl-Riesch (eighth in race) holds third with 437pts. … Mikaela Shiffrin (did not race) is sixth overall with 220pts. … Gagnon is top Canadian in 12th with 157pts.
Gut leads the super G standings 236-200 over Fenninger. … Weirather is third with 180pts. … Gagnon is ninth with 66pts and Leanne Smith (did not finish race) is top American in 16th with 48pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||FIS Points|
|13||8||495318||RUIZ CASTILLO Carolina||1981||SPA||1:18.96||21.44|
|31||24||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR||1:19.75||32.16|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|59||465098||CAILL Ania Monica||1995||ROU|