A less user-friendly track awaited the women on the second day of racing in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The ice intensified overnight and the bumps became more pronounced on the chopped-up hill as the speed skiers attacked a direct and fast but demanding super G on Sunday. The Swiss emerge with much to celebrate as Corinne Suter took her career-first win in the discipline and Wendy Holdener hit the speed podium for the second time in her career with a third-place finish. Defending discipline globe winner and the super-G victor on the track last season, Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria, slid into second place.
Suter was the most precise and aerodynamic through the upper sections and only flailed slightly with the off-balance air at Seilbahnstadlsprung. One skidded redirection into FIS-Schneise didn’t steal much time, and she stayed otherwise clean from top to bottom. She credited the elimination of expectations with granting her the freedom to ski her very best one day after trying too hard to win the downhill and winding up fifth.
“Today I skied with my head and with my heart and without pressure, and that’s the way I have to do it always,” said Suter. “It was dark, it was bumpy, but at the inspection I saw it and I knew that maybe in the finish area you won’t have the good feeling like in another race, so I just tried my best and I’m super happy with my victory.”
The win pushed her into the lead of the super-G standings and she also currently holds the lead in the downhill standings, a chase that was far from her mind at the start of the season.
“I don’t think a lot about this because I just want to take every single race, race by race, and want to show my best. At the end, who will win this globe? I don’t know. We will see,” Suter added.
The day proved to be a massive step in the right direction for Schmidhofer who has struggled with disappointing results and illness over the past several weeks. Her last podium result was back in early December when she won the second day of downhill racing in Lake Louise. Over the past six competitions, she failed to crack into even the top 10.
“It was really difficult for me the last two days because I had no feeling on the skis. So I changed something in my setup, and yesterday it didn’t work. So we changed again something – or big things, maybe – and this was the right decision,” admitted Schmidhofer. “I also saw the video from the last year from the super-G race and I thought, yeah, why not this year? It was hard weeks, the last few weeks, but I feel always in Garmisch it’s really, really difficult here. The slopes and everything. But I like it, and I’m really happy about my second place.”
Suter’s teammate Holdener, better known as a technical specialist who has branched out into some speed races, traveled to Garmisch with the intent of using the days as training for upcoming alpine combined events. With bib 6, she managed to hold a high line and had a surprisingly fast run but did not appear celebratory in the finish area.
“I knew two gates could be better, but on the other side I was really happy with my skiing because I was on the limit and also I was three, so I didn’t think I would stay at this position,” reflected Holdener. “ I like speed, not all the time. I have some problems with downhill – to be fast – but in super-G, I love it more and more.”
Holdener was joined in the race by a small group of technical skiers who are all looking for more experience and exposure in speed right now, most notably Petra Vlhova who finished ninth, Marta Bassino in 10th, and Alice Robinson who made her World Cup debut in super G but was unable to complete the run.
Alice Merryweather and Breezy Johnson of the U.S. Ski Team both had great starts on the course before getting bounced around in the technical turns of Hoelle. Merryweather crossed the line for 14th, a career-best super-G finish, and Johnson was not far behind in 18th as she continues to build up her results in the event.
A tough decision came during the weekend from nine-time World Cup winner Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, who was healthy but decided against starting in Saturday’s downhill race despite having won the Garmisch-Partenkirchen event in 2015. She has not reached the podium yet this season, but she finished fifth in her signature event of super-G in Bansko and was sixth in the Altenmarkt-Zauchensee downhill.
“Is there anything scarier than racing down a steep, icy, bumpy downhill? I realized today that yes, there is – saying no. I’ve never pulled out of anything before – I love challenges, they’re what I live for. The bigger the task, the better the feeling afterwards. However, today was different – I had a bad feeling that would not go away with positive thinking. The last time I was injured I promised myself that I would listen to these signs more in the future, and I’m happy it took 10 years since that promise until I actually had to say no to a race,” Weirather posted on her social media accounts, adding that her family and main sponsor LGT had traveled to the race with 140 people to cheer her on. “Considering all of that, it really took more courage to not race than it would have to go anyways. It was important for me to understand that this is not giving up – it’s the opposite.”
She used the freed-up time on Saturday to train for Sunday’s super-G, but she was visibly uncomfortable on the track. She skied a very conservative run to finish 26th. Some other pre-race favorites fared much worse.
One day after her immaculate downhill win, Viktoria Rebensburg crashed hard when her outside leg shot away from her in Hoelle and the inside edge of her other ski hooked up. She did the splits and snapped the next gate in half after contacting it with her legs. After the race, it was announced she sustained a tibial plateau fracture and will be out six to eight weeks, effectively ending her season.
Sofia Goggia also had a scary crash after leaning in and sliding downhill into a gate. She contacted the gate around her head but was able to move her left arm up for protection just before impact. She was freed from entanglement in the second layer of B-net and also skied to the finish, but her left arm looked to be bothering her. Reports indicate she suffered a fracture of the arm and is undergoing surgery with an estimated six-week recovery period.
The women’s World Cup returns to technical racing next weekend for the first time in a month. The giant slalom and slalom races were moved from Maribor to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, (a traditional stop on the men’s tour) due to a lack of snow at the originally scheduled venue.
Top 10, women’s super G, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
- Corinne Suter (SUI): 1:19.46
- Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT): +0.43
- Wendy Holdener (SUI): +0.70
- Tiffany Gauthier (FRA): +0.71
- Federica Brignone (ITA): +0.90
- Stephanie Venier (AUT): +0.93
- Michelle Gisin (SUI): +1.01
- Romane Miradoli (FRA): +1.29
- Petra Vlhova (SVK): +1.41
- Marta Bassino (ITA): +1.49