Despite being the 2017 World Champion in super-G, Nicole Schmidhofer had yet to win in the discipline as it’s own individual World Cup race. The 29-year-old Austrian earned her first two downhill wins early on in the season when she swept the event in Lake Louise. Given recent finishes in the super-G, Schmidhofer did not expect her first super-G win to come on January 26th in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, but it did, and she was elated.
For a while, racers, officials, and fans alike questioned if the race would even go off, given the continued delays to the start due to heavy snowfall. The weekend’s schedule had already been adjusted to accommodate the weather, and the hour and a half start delay added even more anticipation to the race.
“I’m very happy about today. It was a long time from the inspection to the start and I’m very thankful to all the people on the slope who made it a really really good slope for us,” said Schmidhofer. “I’m happy for the next race tomorrow and hopefully no more snow is coming as a thank you to the people who were on the slope and worked so hard for us.”
Schmidhofer bested Italian Sofia Goggia by 0.23 seconds to take the win. The reigning Olympic downhill and overall downhill champion had been sidelined early on in the season due to a broken ankle suffered prior to the tour’s kick off in Soelden, Austria. Goggia came into Garmisch hoping to test the waters as she did in Cortina, to see how she was feeling and assess if racing was even possible. To podium in her comeback race, a race she had decided to compete in less than 24 hours before its start, was a huge success in the Italian camp.
“I’m really happy with the race today, but actually I’m really happy anyway. I came here in Garmisch and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what was going to be my plan,” said Goggia. “Garmisch was really supposed to be just a test for my ankle. The training runs were good so yesterday we decided to compete today. But I was really grateful to have to the possibility to play. It’s not about a perfect skiing performance, it’s about a free mindset that I had.”
Lara Gut-Behrami also showed fans and competitors alike that she is still a contender when it comes to fighting for the podium in the super-G event. Gut-Behrami has had an inconsistent season. She podiumed in the St. Moritz super-G alongside Mikeala Shiffrin and Tina Weirather, but otherwise has had difficulty consistently finishing in the top 10. Coming to the Garmisch super-G, Gut-Behrami had a rough go of it in Cortina. She was unable to finish the super-G, and in the downhill, she finished 23rd. So far, the 2018/19 season has not lived up to expectations for the Swisswoman, who was the super-G overall runner-up last season, and overall champion in 2016.
“I made some mistakes but I was again able to do what I wanted, to stay on my skis,” said Gut-Behrami. “I’ve been struggling a lot in the last two months, but day’s like today help me find the right way again, find the right feeling. For sure it was a good race for me and I hope I can take that with me.”
Notable performances came from France’s Roman Miradoli and Italy’s Federica Brignone and Marta Bassino, who were able to charge from the middle and back of the pack to break into the top 10. Brignone, who recently surrendered the giant slalom leader bib to Mikaela Shiffrin, had her best super-G finish in the 2018/19 season thus far. Miradoli had a season-best finish as well, beating her Lake Louise finish of sixth for a fifth-place finish in Garmisch. Bassino’s performance is a career-best for the 22-year-old in the super-G. Bassino typically shines in more technical events, and prior to Garmisch, she had yet to break into the top of the field in a speed discipline on the World Cup tour.
The Americans were led by Bend-native Laurenne Ross, who finished 14th overall. Alice Merryweather came from bib 48 to take 29th and earn a few more FIS points in the super-G. Lindsey Vonn was noticeably absent from the super-G as well as current bib leader, Mikaela Shiffrin.
On the road to World Championships, Shiffrin has opted to take a step back to focus on what really matters to her, winning the overall titles in the technical events. Her success in the super-G thus far was unexpected by herself and her staff, and recently the athlete chose not to compete in Garmisch in order to preserve her energy. Instead, Shiffrin chose to train prior to Maribor and World Championships to take some time to breathe and regroup before another intense race block.
“Right now our plan A is super-G, slalom, and GS [for World Championships]. Plan B is super-G, slalom, alpine combined, and GS,” says Shiffrin. “You have to be a little bit careful because it’s easy to get greedy and it’s easy to push too hard so we’re almost trying to be a little more conservative.”
Vonn is currently trying to recover from a knee injury sustained early on in the season. In her return to competition in Cortina, she aggravated a nerve that caused her substantial pain, and she chose to sit Garmisch out as her and her team assess what the best game plan is for her moving forward.
The women of speed will take on the Garmisch downill on Sunday, January 27th starting at 11:30 CET if weather permits.
- Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT): 1:19:98 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Sofi Goggia (ITA): +0.23 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI): +0.45 – Head/Head/Head
- Federica Brignone (ITA): +0.55 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Romane Miradoli (FRA): +0.75 – Dynastar/Lange
- Corine Suter (SUI): +0.86 – Head/Head/Head
- Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR): +0.89 – Head/Head/Head
- Tina Weirather (LIE): +1.09 – Head/Head/Head
- Marta Bassino (ITA): +1.20 – Salomon/Salomon
- Francesca Marsaglia (ITA): +1.21 – Salomon/Salomon
For full FIS results, please click here.