After a big win in the downhill on Tuesday, Ilka Stuhec did it again in Val Gardena/Gröden on Wednesday. The contest for the top three spots in the super-G was tight, but Stuhec held onto the lead by 0.05 seconds, beating second-place finishers Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein and Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria by a hair.
Stuhec continues to be surprised by how soon success has come after her return to skiing. Her reactions in the hot seat and on top of the podium are that of pure joy, disbelief, and happiness. Her run was not perfect. There were a few moments where she almost skied off course, with one major mistake in the middle of the track. So after battling to stay on her line, Stuhec was shocked to see the green light in the finish.
“I did not think I would do so well so quickly. I wanted to reach great results right away and it took a while for me to find this freedom and peace inside myself to get ready for the race,” said Stuhec. “If you believe that you can reach your goals again then you just keep on going and stay motivated. I’m really proud of myself that I managed to put it away so fast.”
Before Stuhec came down the course and took the top position, Schmidhofer and Weirather shared the hot seat, tied for first. Before Stuhec’s win in Val Gardena, Weirather had been the last woman to win a super-G race aside from American Mikaela Shiffrin and Italian Sofia Goggia. After a shaky start in Lake Louise and a third-place finish in St.Moritz, Weirather finally felt satisfied with her performance.
“I just told myself no regrets. I didn’t want to be in the finish and feel like I could have done more,” said Weirather. “So I went really straight and didn’t care if I skied out. I just wanted to either be fast or go out.”
Yet again, the course set and the terrain in Val Gardena came as a surprise, particularly for Weirather, who had hoped to be challenged by the terrain and the speed a little bit more. After studying the men’s course, Weirather had high expectations for the Saslong.
“It was one of the easiest super-G’s we had because in St. Moritz we all underestimated the speed and the course. Here, the opposite happened,” said Weirather. “We thought it would be tougher. But you could basically tuck everything, which was kind of strange. I love it here. I wish we could come back here more often and do a longer downhill, maybe a little bit more difficult just because I think I will perform better if it’s more difficult.”
Nicole Schmidhofer once again led the Austrian women’s team in the final standings. After two downhill wins in Lake Louise, which marked the first wins of her career, the 29-year-old had struggled to find the podium. In the Lake Louise super-G she finished 11th, and in the St. Moritz super-G she finished ninth. Tuesday’s downhill she finished 10th. Her second place finish in Val Gardena is her first since 2013.
“My confidence is really high. The middle part [of the course] I could have been more aggressive, but it’s okay. This is a really big step for me after the last two super-G races, and second place is really good,” said Schmidhofer.
Once more the Austrians crowded into the top 10. Stephanie Venier finished eighth, Ramona Siebenhofer finished ninth, and Christina Ager charged forward from bib 34 to take 10th, her career-best finish. So far this season, Schmidhofer and Venier have finished top ten in every race they have competed in.
When six racers are in the top 15, the Austrian’s know they are doing something right. With two new coaches, Wolfgang Grabner, who previously coached for the Austrian men, and former Austrian men’s speed team member, Florian Scheiber, the women’s speed team has been dominating the top of the field in speed early on in the season.
“I would hate to be the coach that has to decide who is competing in World Championships,” said Austrian Press Officer, Mauela Riegler.
Italian Francesca Marsaglia also had a notable performance, finishing in sixth, 0.24 seconds off the podium after starting in bib 29. Americans Alice Merryweather and Laurenne Ross finished 37th and 39th respectively.
After Val Gardena, the women of speed enter into a break period, which will be their last chance to get some rest and training in before the next block of races kick off in January. The women return to downhill and super-G in St. Anton, Austria January 10th-13th. From there women’s speed events will occur continuously until World Championships in Are, Sweden, which will take place February 4th-17th.
1. Ilka Stuhec (SLO) 1:31.87 – Stoeckli/Lange
2. Tina Weirather (LIE) +0.05 – Head/Head/Head
2. Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT) +0.05 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
4. Jasmine Flury (SUI) +0.06 – Stoeckli/Lange
5. Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR) +0.24 – Head/Head/Head
6. Francesca Marsaglia (ITA) +0.29 – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) +0.43 – Stoeckli/Lange
8. Stephanie Venier (AUT) +0.45 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9. Ramona Seibenhofer (AUT) +0.69 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
10. Christina Ager (AUT) +0.74 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
For complete FIS results, click here.