Spring was in the air at the second and final alpine combined of the women’s World Cup season, a sure sign that winter is coming to a close. The discipline globe was on the line, and the field left everything they had on the hill. While Italy’s Federica Brignone walked away with the win, Wendy Holdener of Switzerland earned the second alpine combined globe of her career in front of a home crowd by coming in fourth place.
The victory marked Brignone’s third of the season after a GS win in Lienz, Austria, and a super-G win in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria. The Italian has a history of strong performances at Crans Montana. She has been on the podium in every World Cup alpine combined she has started in at this venue including another victory in February 2017. Brignone is the only Italian woman to have won a World Cup in this discipline.
“It’s always amazing to win,” Brignone said. “For sure, to be on the podium is really good and winning is amazing, and I’m happy. I don’t know. Somebody doesn’t like the alpine combined, but for me, it’s really not easy to be good in super-G or downhill and good at slalom at the same time….It’s a fun race. You never know who is winning.”
Alpine combined is likely on its way to the graveyard. At the annual FIS meetings in May, officials discussed a draft schedule for the 2020-21 World Cup season with zero alpine combined races, meaning it could disappear before the next Winter Olympic Games.
For now, it lives on and World Cup points are on the line. Brignone bested the the newly crowned Olympic gold medalist in this discipline, Michelle Gisin of Switzerland, who took second place and was just 0.03 seconds away from the win.
“That was the most important, to confirm that amazing race of Pyeongchang,” Gisin said. “I’m so happy I’m so close, actually, even to the victory, which would be my first World Cup victory. But I’m so, so happy after not that good super-G to recover that well in slalom with the fastest time in second run. That’s almost a little crazy. I’m so happy for that.”
Gisin’s two results in alpine combined this season were also good enough to end up second in the discipline standings. The Swiss have historically dominated this event. No country has won more women’s World Cup alpine combined races than Switzerland with 28 wins.
Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova rounded out the podium in third place, a solid performance for her first World Cup race in this discipline. That’s not to say she has never competed in the event before. Vlhova raced in the Olympic alpine combined in PyeongChang, where she was fifth.
After a solid 12th-place super-G run in Switzerland, the Slovakian used her slalom skills to move up nine spots. She was just 0.09 seconds away from the win.
“I’m really happy that I did a fast run in super-G because I train really not so much, but I’m really happy that I did first podium in alpine combined,” Vlhova said.
Given that she did not race the only other alpine combined this season, Vlhova was not in contention for the discipline globe. However, she is ranked second in the current World Cup slalom standings with 605 points, with only 175 points between her and American Mikaela Shiffrin. There are two slalom races left this season, so there is a remote possibility that Vlhova could take home the discipline globe. Vlhova also indicated that she is interested in becoming an overall contender, competing in more alpine combined and more super-G in future seasons.
“Yeah, we want to try some more disciplines, but we need to go step by step,” Vlhova said. “But, of course, in the next year, we will try to do more alpine combined, maybe more super-G, and then we will see.”
Shiffrin did not compete in the super-G or alpine combined in Crans Montana. In fact, there were no Americans or Canadians on Sunday’s results. The U.S. Ski Team’s Alice Merryweather was slated to start, but fell ill.
Shiffrin plans to return to World Cup racing next week in Ofterschwang, Germany, for the slalom and giant slalom on March 9 and 10.
- Federica Brignone (ITA) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Michelle Gisin (SUI) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Petra Vlhova (SVK) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Wendy Holdener (SUI) – Head / Head / Head
- Stephanie Brunner (USA) – Head / Head / Head
- Ragnhid Mowinckel (NOR) – Head / Head / Head
- Rahel Kopp (SUI) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Sofia Goggia (ITA) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Ricarda Haaser (AUT) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Priska Nufer (SUI) – Dynastar / Lange / Look
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|21||25||426257||LIE Kajsa Vickhoff||1998||NOR||1:05.97||43.94||1:49.91||+3.44||37.16||10|
|33||41||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||1:07.43||46.48||1:53.91||+7.44||80.36||0|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|43||35079||SIMARI BIRKNER Maria Belen||1982||ARG||0|
|Did not start 1st run|