Just one week after the Closing Ceremony at Pyeongchang, the women of the FIS Alpine World Cup Tour returned to competition in Crans Montana, Switzerland. While a few major players like Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. and Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany opted to skip the series in favor of more time to recover from the jet lag and excitement of the Olympic Games, the rest of the field charged full bore down the Mont Lachaux course.
Wearing bib 7 in the super-G, Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather led the pack with a final time of 1:02.17. The Olympic super-G bronze medalist raced on the track just five days prior in a Europa Cup race and clearly used the experience to her advantage.
“It was for sure good, especially for my head just because I had troubles here in the last few years…” she said of the Europa Cup. “So I just wanted to do this as another training to inspect and then race and see where I was wrong, so that made it maybe a little bit easier today to know how fast I’m going to be.”
This victory comes at a critical time in the season where the women are collecting their final World Cup points in hopes of winning end-of-season globes. This win gives Weirather a significant lead in the super-G standings over Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who was seventh on the day. Weirather boasts 421 points while Gut sits in second with 375 points. The Liechtensteiner won the title last season and is looking to walk away from Are, Sweden, with her second super-G globe.
“It’s great because Crans Montana is really difficult and after the Olympics, I was struggling a little bit because it was such a highlight that I trained for for so long and I never thought about what’s going to be after it,” Weirather said. “So, I felt kind of empty and like ‘What? It’s over?’ Then, I got really sick and I was in bed for a couple days and now I am really happy I was able to focus again on my next goal, which is the crystal globe.”
Anna Veith of Austria made a jump to third in the super-G standings with her second-place finish on Saturday. Weirather bested the Austrian by 0.36 seconds. With 307 total World Cup points in super-G and just one super-G race left this season at World Cup Finals, there is no chance for her to claim the discipline globe this season. Instead of focusing on a crystal globe in the next couple weeks, she has her sites set squarely on improving her start position in GS.
“For me, next week is very important because my goal for next season is in GS…that I can start in top 30, and I need points for that because I’m not in top 30 yet, so my goal for the next two weeks is to make that,” Veith said.
The big surprise of the day was Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, who skied from bib 31 to third place. Her stellar performance marked her first World Cup podium in this discipline. In fact, until Saturday, her best super-G result was 19th in the St. Moritz super-G back in December of this season.
“My plan for today was to give everything and search my limit for tomorrow to have a plan and to know how much I can risk,” Holdener shared. “Now that it ended this way, I nearly couldn’t believe it in the finish. It was crazy.”
Her super-G run makes her a favorite to win Sunday’s alpine combined–the discipline that she earned her Olympic bronze medal in.
Her teammate and Olympic alpine combined gold medalist Michelle Gisin will also be one to watch in Sunday’s race. She tied with Federica Brignone of Italy for fourth in the super-G, just 0.13 seconds off the podium. Brignone has a history of strong performances at Crans Montana, earning a first- and second-place finish in the 2017 alpine combined races there.
While the Swiss rose to the occasion on home snow, the Americans had a tough day with only one athlete in the top 30. Alice McKennis finished in 23rd, 1.24 seconds off of the winning pace. Breezy Johnson, Laurenne Ross and Alice Merryweather finished in 34th, 45th and 50th, respectively.
With seven World Cup races left in the season, American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin, who decided to skip the Swiss series, has a comfortable 611 point lead in the overall standings. Holdener currently sits in second with 902 points and Weirather sits in third with 797 points. Based on the rest of the competition schedule, it’s highly unlikely anyone will stop Shiffrin from defending her overall globe.
Action continues with the women’s alpine combined in March 4.
1. Tina Weirather (LIE) – Head / Head / Head
2. Anna Veith (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
3. Wendy Holdener (SUI) – Head / Head / Head
4. Federica Brignone (ITA) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
4. Michelle Gisin (SUI) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
6. Christine Scheyer (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
7. Lara Gut (SUI) – Head / Head / Head
8. Stephanie Brunner (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
9. Joana Haehlen (SUI) – Voelkl / Marker /Lange
10. Johanna Schnarf (ITA) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|21||35||426257||LIE Kajsa Vickhoff||1998||NOR||1:03.28||+1.11||19.28||10|
|48||55||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||1:05.49||+3.32||57.67||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|