Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec defended her World Championship title in the downhill, taking home the win over Switzerland’s Corinne Suter by 0.23 seconds in Sunday’s downhill in Are. Stuhec has spent much of the season trying to find her groove after returning from an injury that sidelined her for all of the 2017/18 season. She won the downhill in Val Gardena back in December, and found the podium in Cortina, but missed the win by 0.40 seconds. A win in Sunday’s downhill brings Stuhec full circle as she works to come back from injury and once again finds the speed she had during 2017, the winningest season of her career.
“[Coming into the race] I thought that nothing that happened before actually matters. Not what happened last year, or what happened two years ago, because it’s a new day, it’s a new chance. We all start from zero, it’s the same for everyone,” said Stuhec on her second consecutive World Championship title. “I knew I can ski fast and I’ve wanted this from day one in Lake Louise. So I had to calm down and really get ready to show my best on race day.”
Despite Stuhec’s big win, Lindsey Vonn stole the show after podiuming in the final race of her career. Vonn laid it all on the line to take home bronze, and in turn, broke her own record of oldest athlete to win a medal at World Championships. She also broke the record for most World Championship medals awarded to a female, as the first female skier to earn a medal at six different World Championships. Although it was not a win, Vonn still felt satisfied with Sunday’s downhill performance.
“I’m in a position where my body isn’t allowing me to ski the way that I know that I can.,” said Vonn. “Yes, I’m disappointed because I know that I can win, but I don’t know that I can win anymore, and that’s why I’m retiring. My body isn’t letting me do what I need to do to win races. So, that’s the best I could have done today, honestly.”
After watching good friend and training partner, Aksel Lund Svindal, finish strong in the final race of his career in the men’s downhill the day before, Vonn quieted the anxious voices in her head and chose to charge in her final race.
“I think everyone knows my mentality at this point,” said Vonn. “I always risk everything all the time, which, like I’ve said, is the reason I’ve always been able to win so much but also the reason I’ve always crashed so much and had so many injuries. I risked it all today, as always, and I was so nervous. I had serious anxiety. I really wanted to finish strong, I didn’t want to end up like I did on Tuesday, in the fence. I was weighing in my mind the risk of putting it all out there, crashing and getting injured again.”
Her teammate, Alice Merryweather, helped represent the United States by finishing in 22nd overall. Laurenne Ross was present at the race to cheer on Vonn and Merryweather as they came through the finish, but did not compete due an injury obtained on Thursday during downhill training
Suter joined Vonn and Stuhec on the podium to take her second World Championship medal of the week, after earning the bronze in Tuesday’s super-G. Suter’s super-G finish brought her to tears, after fighting for a podium throughout the regular World Cup season and often coming up short. It is the 24-year-old’s first World Championships, and also her first time on the podium.
“I’m feeling a bit better because after the super-G. I was so surprised that I got a medal and today I hoped for a medal but the run wasn’t perfect so I’m just super happy about my second place today,” she said.
Up next on the women’s docket is the Alpine Team event, which will take place on February 12th at 4 p.m. CET.
1. Ilka Stuhec (SLO): 1:01.74 – Stoeckli/Lange
2. Corinne Suter (SUI): +0.23 – Head/Head/Head
3. Lindsey Vonn (USA): +0.49 – Head/Head/Head
4. Stephanie Venier (AUT): +0.53 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5. Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR): +0.59 – Head/Head/Head
6. Nicol Delago (ITA): +0.62 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7. Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT): +0.64 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
8. Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI): +0.78 – Head/Head/Head
9. Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT): +0.81 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
9. Tamara Tipler (AUT): +0.81 – Salomon/Salomon
For full FIS results, click here.