Austria’s Stephanie Venier walked away from the Garmisch track on Sunday morning victorious for the first time in her World Cup career. The 25-year-old has made a name for herself as a consistent top 10 finisher on a stacked Austrian speed team, with an occasional podium here and there, yet has been unable to finish on top since her World Cup debut back in 2013.
Her win over reigning downhill overall champion, Sofia Goggia, is notable given the relentless nature of the Garmisch track. Sunday saw multiple women in the top of the field fall to the conditions of the course, thankfully without serious injury. Austria’s Cornelia Huetter crashed heavily into the b-netting, but walked away reportedly unharmed. Her teammates, Tamara Tippler and Nadine Fest also were unable to finish their runs. Italians Nicol Delago and Federica Brignone, as well as Swizterland’s Jasmine Flury had a tough time with the course and experienced small crashes, but as of now have not reported any serious injuries either.
“The waiting in the finish area was already a very delicate feeling. I’ve never been allowed to sit in the leader box, so I savored it despite the trembling,” said Venier. “I drove relaxed because I had nothing to lose. The track here is for me because I feel very comfortable on technically demanding slopes.”
Goggia is still working to regain momentum after breaking her right ankle early on in the season and stepping into Garmisch unsure of whether or not she would compete. To have finished on the podium in both events of the series is a solid start and something that Goggia is proud of.
“Although it was not enough to win, I am very satisfied. Today I already thought that the ride would not be enough for victory. But it was a good step back into the Ski World Cup,” said the Italian.
Goggia fell behind Venier by 0.25 seconds, but was the only other racer to challenge the lead that she held. Third-place finisher Kira Weidle was 0.54 seconds out from Venier.
Weidle has demonstrated that she has what it takes to be on the downhill podium before. In Lake Louise, the 22-year-old German woman finished third in the downhill to earn her first career podium. In Cortina, she came close to breaking back on to the stand but fell short in fourth place.
The United State’s found it’s way into the top ten on Sunday, led by World Cup newbie, Alice Merryweather. Lake Louise was the first race Merryweather scored a few FIS points. Now, the 22-year-old has broken into the top ten in eighth, coming from behind in bib 23. Her teammate, Laurenne Ross, finished 14th.
“I’m super excited with eighth place today, obviously. First top ten, first top twenty, and it feels really really good,” said Merryweather. “I’ve been skiing super well in training and been just kind of working on my mental state on race day cause I think that’s what’s been holding me back. So the whole weekend I’ve been super, super relaxed and really laid back and I think that for me that that’s the key, to just relax, put together a race run, trust my skiing and I fully did that today.”
With all of the course holds on the Garmisch track, it took longer than usual to get to Merryweather’s run. But she says her maintained mental state and discipline were the keys to propelling her into her career-best finish.
“I kept it together and I think that I skied the way that I know I can and I think that there’s even more in the tank, so I’m really excited about that. I’m also very thrilled to make my first World Champs team, particularly since it was in Are and last time I was there was for World Juniors two years ago and I won that one…” she laughs. “Overall just very excited for the next few weeks with World Champs, and super psyched about today.”
World Championships are coming up fast, but the women’s tour will take one more stop in Maribor, Slovenia for slalom and giant slalom February 1st and 2nd prior to heading to Are, Sweden.
- Stephanie Venier (AUT): 1:37.46 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Sofia Goggia (ITA): +0.25 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Kira Weidle (GER): +0.54 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Corine Suter (SUI): +0.81 – Head/Head/Head
- Ilka Stuhec (SLO): +0.85 – Stoeckli/Lange
- Nadia Fanchini (ITA): + 0.99 – Dynastar/Lange
- Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT): +1.03 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Alice Merryweather (USA): +1.19 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Ricarda Haaser (AUT): +1.31 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT): +1.37 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
For full FIS results, please click here.