The 2018 World Junior Championships in Davos, Switzerland, drew to a close on Thursday with the women’s downhill. Norway came out on top in the final day of competition as 19-year-old Kajsa Vickhoff Lie took her second gold medal of the Championships, finishing 0.28 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Juliana Suter of Switzerland and 0.55 seconds ahead of Russia’s Iulija Pleshkova in third. Lie also won the super-G title earlier in the week.
Heavy fog delayed the racing in the morning but eventually cleared with action getting underway at noon local time.
“Ending these Championships with another gold medal is just amazing,” Lie said after the race. “I knew I was among the favorites, so the pressure was high and I still had to ski well to claim a medal. I have really enjoyed it here in Davos.”
Top American honors went to Squaw Valley’s AJ Hurt in seventh. Nina O’Brien followed in 12th place with Isabella Wright finishing 23rd, Keely Cashman 26th, and Abigail Murer 28th.
“I was really proud of our women in the way they had the goal of coming out of the alpine combined and really learning that track,” said Alpine Development Director Chip Knight. “Day after day they made gains. Nina O’Brien and AJ Hurt each skied good race runs. Nina improved by a couple of second over her training runs and AJ was third at the last split before she went on her hip at the second to last turn.”
With the women racing the tech events first and then transitioning into speed, the field did not get a chance to see the speed track before racing super-G, something that favored many of the European nations that have skied on the hill before.
“I think that put us at a bit of a disadvantage because of the speed track,” Knight explained. “We did not have any repetition before the super-G race or before the super-G portion of the alpine combined. It wasn’t until we got a few downhill training runs did our athletes start to gain some comfort on that hill. It’s a Europa Cup hill and the Swiss have been on it for national championships and FIS races a bunch of times.”
Although the American team walked away from the Championships with only two medals this year, Knight sees the overall team performance as an extremely positive one when you take a closer look at the results.
“We came in this year with much more realistic goals,” he said. “We came out of last year’s Championships with three medals that were a little bit unexpected, to be honest. We came in this year looking at our squad and knowing that we have not focused on downhill, where the majority of our medals had come in the last two years. We wanted to get three medals again so we came up just short there but we had two fourth-place finishes as well. It could have easily been more than what we got.”
The race for the Marc Hodler Trophy also finished with host nation Switzerland pulling clear of the rest of the field and taking the title with 127 points ahead of Austria with 113 and Norway with 90. The United States finished fourth with 53 points. Knight also explained that while medals are nice, the real measure of the strength of a nation is the Hodler standings, which takes into account top-10 finishes across all disciplines.
“We blew our previous performances out of the water,” said Knight. “14 top 10s and we haven’t had more than eight in the last nine or ten years. We scored top-10 results in every event and were contending in every event. To me, that’s a really good signal for the future.”
In fact, second and third place in the standings, Austria and Norway, did not manage to score top 10s in every event like the Americans did. The only other nation to do so was Switzerland.
The American World Junior team now heads back to North America and refocuses on the NorAm cup, where precious World Cup spots for 2018-19 are on the line. The NorAm series heads to Whiteface, New York, and Stowe, Vermont, for slalom and giant slalom races Feb. 13-16.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|1||9||426257||LIE Kajsa Vickhoff||1998||NOR||1:10.10||21.26|
|4||11||426248||EDSETH Marte Berg||1998||NOR||1:10.73||+0.63||32.49|
|7||20||6536392||HURT A J||2000||USA||1:10.82||+0.72||34.10|
|12||2||6535773||O BRIEN Nina||1997||USA||1:10.98||+0.88||36.95|
|17||1||198029||SMADJA CLEMENT Karen||1999||FRA||1:11.43||+1.33||44.98|
|19||4||25210||MORENO BECERRA Cande||2000||AND||1:11.58||+1.48||47.65|
|32||22||35222||BARUZZI FARRIOL Francesca||1998||ARG||1:13.91||+3.81||89.20|
|Did not start 1st run|