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.

Image Credit: WJC Davos 2018

“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.


Official Results

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
 2  13  516519 SUTER Juliana 1998 SUI  1:10.38  +0.28  26.25
 3  10  485941 PLESHKOVA Iulija 1997 RUS  1:10.65  +0.55  31.07
 4  11  426248 EDSETH Marte Berg 1998 NOR  1:10.73  +0.63  32.49
 4  7  56416 SCHEIB Julia 1998 AUT  1:10.73  +0.63  32.49
 6  15  516521 KOLLY Noemie 1998 SUI  1:10.76  +0.66  33.03
 7  20  6536392 HURT A J 2000 USA  1:10.82  +0.72  34.10
 8  17  6295152 RUNGGALDIER Teresa 1999 ITA  1:10.85  +0.75  34.63
 9  5  426324 MONSEN Marte 2000 NOR  1:10.91  +0.81  35.70
 10  12  299630 DELAGO Nadia 1997 ITA  1:10.96  +0.86  36.60
 11  14  197861 PASLIER Esther 1997 FRA  1:10.97  +0.87  36.77
 12  2  6535773 O BRIEN Nina 1997 USA  1:10.98  +0.88  36.95
 13  18  107697 FLECKENSTEIN Stefanie 1997 CAN  1:11.17  +1.07  40.34
 14  16  197924 CHIRAT Madeleine 1998 FRA  1:11.18  +1.08  40.52
 15  25  56509 GRILL Lisa 2000 AUT  1:11.26  +1.16  41.94
 16  8  56392 GRITSCH Franziska 1997 AUT  1:11.33  +1.23  43.19
 17  21  206759 HIRTL-STANGGASSINGER Katrin 1998 GER  1:11.43  +1.33  44.98
 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
 20  35  516517 JENAL Stephanie 1998 SUI  1:11.59  +1.49  47.83
 21  28  516560 LINGG Charlotte 1999 SUI  1:11.64  +1.54  48.72
 22  32  198016 ESCANE Doriane 1999 FRA  1:11.67  +1.57  49.26
 23  29  6535791 WRIGHT Isabella 1997 USA  1:11.88  +1.78  53.00
 24  19  426273 SAETHERENG Hannah 1999 NOR  1:11.98  +1.88  54.78
 25  30  506933 DANNEWITZ Ida 1999 SWE  1:12.16  +2.06  57.99
 26  24  6536213 CASHMAN Keely 1999 USA  1:12.26  +2.16  59.78
 27  26  299589 GIUNTI Marta 1997 ITA  1:12.50  +2.40  64.06
 28  3  6535868 MURER Abigail 1997 USA  1:12.57  +2.47  65.30
 29  6  506890 AXELSSON Fanny 1998 SWE  1:12.60  +2.50  65.84
 30  23  426303 NORBYE Kaja 1999 NOR  1:12.69  +2.59  67.44
 31  27  415213 WILLINGER Georgia 1997 NZL  1:13.09  +2.99  74.58
 32  22  35222 BARUZZI FARRIOL Francesca 1998 ARG  1:13.91  +3.81  89.20
 33  31  486065 MATVEEVA Sofia 2000 RUS  1:14.92  +4.82  107.21
 34  34  486036 SHERINA Natalia 1999 RUS  1:15.21  +5.11  112.38
Did not start 1st run
 33  426236 BEKKESTAD Kristiane 1998 NOR

 

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Sean Higgins
Senior Editor
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A Lake Tahoe native and University of Vermont graduate, Higgins was a member of the Catamounts' 2012 NCAA title winning squad and earned first team All-American status in 2013. Prior to coming to Ski Racing Media, he coached U14s for the Squaw Valley Ski Team.
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