The women’s downhill in Crans-Montana proved to be one of the more eventful races of the season, filled with multiple race interruptions due to crashes, timing malfunctions, and warm weather conditions. Due to a timing issue in the finish, there was some confusion as to what women would be on the podium in the second and third spots. Sofia Goggia, on the other hand, made it clear that the victory was hers with top splits across the board.
“I’m pretty happy about my race, not so much my performance. I think in the first training run I skied really good, and in the second training run and today a little bit less. But on race day you just have to be fast,” said Goggia. “And then it was really difficult. It was really warm, and also the interval, and then this problem with [the timing]. It was awful you know, I was ready to start and they stopped me ten seconds before my start and it was pretty tough to handle the situation but I made it.”
Goggia has found the podium since her return to the circuit after an ankle injury sidelined her during the first half of the 2018/19, as well as a silver medal at World Championships, but Crans-Montana is the first win of the Italian’s comeback season.
Switzerland’s Joana Haehlen skied into second for her first career podium after working to recover from an ACL tear that she obtained in April of 2018. The 27-year-old opted not to have surgery to strengthen the joint on her own and in return has been enjoying the best season of her career thus far. Her best result came in St. Moritz, where she finished seventh in the super-G. She had yet to break into the top five at a downhill event, until Saturday.
“For me it’s a dream come true,” said Haehlen. “It has to sink in, but it’s unbelievable to make my first podium at home with my friends and family here. I really tried to push my limit, ski clear, and just go for it. I really felt good this morning and when I was standing in the start gate during inspection and the sun came up, I knew that today was my day.”
Immediately after the race, Nicole Schmidhofer (the current downhill points leader) seemed to be in third, until further review revealed that Lara Gut-Behrami had actually earned the third spot on the podium. Gut-Behrami had not received a run time after crossing the finish and had unofficially been awarded fourth until the timing issue had been resolved.
“It’s frustrating for everyone. I’m third, and it’s better to be third than fourth but it’s…I don’t want to say unfair because in the end if my time was faster, than third is right,” said Gut-Behrami after finding out she made the podium, almost an hour after the conclusion of the race. “It’s weird because I cannot really say, yea I’m happy. I’m happy with the way I was skiing and I’m happy if it’s a podium because you count podiums, you count wins, you don’t count fourth places.”
Longines, Official Timekeeper of the FIS, and Swiss Timing released a statement apologizing for the technical difficulties and confusion surrounding final times Saturday morning. The problem was due to connection issues between the finish line and the timekeeping room when the electronic timekeeping did not stop the finish time automatically for a few competitors. Official race results were drawn from the manual backup system and could not be confirmed until about an hour after the race.
Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec kicked off the race in bib number one with a big crash, blasting through multiple layers of safety netting. Although she was able to ski down to the finish on her own, she immediately was transported to a local hospital for further examination. A press release from her team revealed that Stuhec’s season is now over after obtaining injuries to both knees after her fall, a ruptured posterior cruciate ligament and a bone contusion to the right knee.
France’s Tiffany Gauthier also had a serious crash and was airlifted off the course via helicopter. The French Federation has not yet released a statement regarding her condition, but upon lift off the French racer appear to have injured her left knee.
Alice Merryweather, now the sole representative of the United State’s women’s speed team finished in 19th place. Her traveling partner and teammate, Laurenne Ross, has made her way back to the states after an unfortunate crash in warm-ups during World Championships ended her season.
The alpine combined event is scheduled to kick off on Sunday at 10:30 am CET.
- Sofia Goggia (ITA): 1:29.77 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Joana Haehlen (SUI): +0.36 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI): +0.46 – Head/Head/Head
- Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT): +0.52 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Corine Suter (SUI): +0.59 – Head/Head/Head
- Stephanie Venier (AUT): +0.68 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Jasmine Flury (SUI): +0.71 – Stoeckli / Lange
- Federica Brignone (ITA): +0.78 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Nadia Fanchini (ITA): +0.83 – Dynastar/Lange
- Romane Miradoli (FRA): +1.04 – Dynastar/ Lange
For full FIS results, click here.