Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener successfully defended her alpine combined gold medal in the World Championships on Friday, squeaking ahead of Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova by three-hundredths of a second. On the World Cup circuit, Holdener has not been able to finish better than third place in each race she has podiumed this season. She still holds the record for the most World Cup podiums without a win. Defending her World Championship gold medal is an important component to keeping her confidence levels high in World Championships, and going into the final World Cup series after Are’s completion.
“Finally, I could put two good runs together and bring home the victory. I mean it’s the right time, I’m so happy I could win the World Championship title in super-combined again,” said Holdener. “In slalom, I knew that I had to bring it. I’m really happy that I could make it a little bit before Petra.”
Tough conditions in Are put the women in a difficult position during the downhill portion of the super combined. The race began from the reserve start after having start times shifted around in an attempt to accommodate for snowy weather. Then in the slalom, many women struggled in the middle section of the course, some losing up to a second of time after having kept up their time in the top section of the course.
Holdener lost just enough time during the tricky portion of the slalom to make for an exciting finishing, just barely pulling ahead of Petra Vlhova’s aggressive slalom. Vlhova finished in second, the first individual World Championship medal of her career.
In third, 0.45 seconds out from Vlhova, was Ragnhild Mowinckel. Her podium finish is her first in the alpine combined on the world stage, and her first individual medal at World Championships.
“This is for sure some of the things you dream, and putting it all together on the one day when it counts, it’s the best feeling ever,” said Mowinckel. “I’m also excited with my downhill in terms of Sunday, and just being able to get the whole slalom run down in a pretty okay manner. It’s as close to home as you get without being in Norway, it’s so much fun having friends and family cheer me on. Even the Swedes I feel cheer me on because it’s kind of like home. I’m super excited for sure.”
Lindsey Vonn participated in the downhill in order to prepare for the final run of her career on Sunday, but opted out of the slalom. She tied Petra Vlhova for eighth in the downhill portion after a weak start followed by a strong finish. About two or three minutes before she got into the start gate, Vonn said she felt a rib pop, which threw off her game a bit.
“I said a couple of profanities, and I definitely didn’t push out of the start, the upper part was kind of weird,” said Vonn. “But in general, I think the bottom was really good and I’m glad I was able to get back out there today and get once last chance to get a feel for the course before Sunday.”
During the super-G, Vonn’s crash left her sore but still functioning. After spending some time loosening up during the week, she’s looking forward to skiing the downhill one last time surrounded by family, friends, and fans.
“Things look positive for Sunday, I think that just the biggest thing for me is that I have to absolutely charge,” said Vonn. “I know what to do when I’m in the starting gate, that’s the easy part. For me right now it’s enjoying the last race and making it something very special.”
Alice Merryweather, the lone representative of the United States in the slalom, had a costly mistake that pushed her back into 18th overall after a strong 10th place finish in the downhill earlier on in the day.
Roni Remme had a strong showing in the combined finishing fifth, a career best for the 22-year-old Canadian. She skied the fastest slalom run in the field, even besting slalom specialist Vlhova, allowing her to jump from bib 23 into the top five.
Next up for the women is Sunday’s downhill, which will air on NBCSN at 6:30 am EST. Tune in to catch the last run of downhill legend Lindsey Vonn’s career.
- Wendy Holdener (SUI): 2:02.13 – Head/Head/Head
- Petra Vlhova (SVK): +0.03 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR): +0.45 – Head/Head/Head
- Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT): +0.49 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Roni Remme (CAN): +1.13 – Head/Head/Head
- Federica Brignone (ITA): +1.39 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Kajsa Vickhoff Lie (NOR): +1.51 – Head/Head/Head
- Franziska Gritsch (AUT): +1.69 – Head/Head/Head
- Lisa Hoernblad (SWE): +2.06 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Ilka Stuhec (SLO):+2.14 – Stoeckli/Lange
For full results, click here.