Since the start of 2017, seven different women have won downhill World Cup races – Christine Scheyer, Lindsey Vonn, Lara Gut, Sofia Goggia, Ilka Stuhec, Cornelia Huetter and Mikaela Shiffrin. On any given day, there are multiple contenders for the top spot unlike in tech events where Shiffrin is almost always expected to win these days. On Friday, it was Goggia’s turn again. The Italian won her second downhill in a row and became the first woman to win back-to-back downhill races since Stuhec in Dec. 2016. The Italian fireball knifed her way down the Cortina d’Ampezzo track, skiing to victory with a final time of 1:36.45.
“I truly love Cortina, and I loved it also two years ago when I was like 20th,” Goggia said. “It’s my favorite place, my favorite slope as I already said. It is a complete slope. You have everything: big turns, downhill turns, flat jumps, chutes. So, it’s really complete and it’s always so well prepared.”
While Goggia celebrated her win in front of a home crowd, her American competitors celebrated second- and third-place results as well as the end of a storied carer. Legendary American athlete Julia Mancuso announced her retirement as Shiffrin–the 22-year-old multi-event threat–grabbed her third downhill podium result along with teammate Lindsey Vonn.
Historically, Vonn has dominated on the Cortina track, earning 11 of her 78 total World Cup wins there. On this day, she fell 0.47 seconds short after hitting a bump in the track that sent her outside of the line, causing her to scrub speed. Even still, the American was able to save the run and ski to into the top three.
“I lost the win, but I still got second place, which is, I think, pretty outstanding all things considered and I know I have the speed,” Vonn shared. “I know I’m skiing well, so tomorrow is another chance, another opportunity. Hopefully, I won’t be caught by that rut tomorrow.”
Shiffin rounded out the podium, 0.84 seconds off of Goggia’s pace. The Burke Mountain Academy alumna seems to have found a new gear in speed this season, using it to expand on her already stunning lead in the overall standings.
The dominant tech skier totals 1441 points–nearly 900 points ahead of her closest rival Goggia, who has 570 points. She also currently leads the slalom and giant slalom standings. However, Shiffrin has not retaken the lead in the downhill standings. Goggia now wears the red bib heading into Saturday’s downhill race.
Beyond the podium, there were a mix of emotions for the American contingent in the Italian alps. This weekend is the last opportunity for the ladies’ to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team, making the World Cup competition that much more intense. Jacqueline Wiles and Alice Mckennis had strong performances, earning seventh and 11th place, respectively. Laurenne Ross, Stacey Cook and Breezy Johnson all skied to World Cup points in 17th, 20th, and 22nd, respectively. Alice Merryweather did not finish.
For Mancuso, her run down the track was a well-deserved victory lap. In a full-on “Super Jules” hero costume, she skied down to her teammates at the finish line where she was greeted with hugs and champagne showers.
“It’s been an emotional ride not having a body that can perform how you want, so mentally it’s been really tough, but on the bittersweet side, I feel so incredibly grateful to have had such an amazing career…Looking back I have no regrets,” she shared.
While the four-time Olympic medalist told SRF that she had cried enough over the last couple days, she tried to hold back tears. Meanwhile, Vonn broke down in the finish area and throughout interviews all afternoon as she talked about her longtime competitor.
“It’s been a pretty emotional afternoon,” Vonn said. “I’m going to try to keep it together. I think I’ve been crying more than she has today. I’ve been racing with her, skiing with her since we were like nine years old. We went to ski camps at Erich Sailer. We went to Whistler Cup. We basically climbed the ladder of ski racing together, and it’s really sad to see her go because it’s like a part of me, our career together. She always pushed me. I think the two of us, we pushed each other, and we both reached higher levels of the sport because we had each other.”
The two athletes have competed for decades and pushed each other to new speeds. They have had their differences over the years because as Vonn put it: “We are very different people.” However, the tension has dissipated with age, and the two seem to have found a mutual respect.
Mancuso will still be a part of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in a new role with NBC. World Cup racing continues on without her on Saturday with a second downhill race followed by a super-G on Sunday.
- Sofia Goggia (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Lindsey Vonn (USA) – Head/Head/Head
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Lara Gut (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
- Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Raghnild Mowinckel (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Jacqueline Wiles (USA) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Stephanie Venier (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Kira Weidle (GER) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Johanna Scharf (ITA) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|39||51||465098||CAILL Ania Monica||1995||ROU||1:44.55||+8.10||104.98||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|