It gets no closer than 0.01 seconds for ski racers. It’s faster than a blink of an eye and enough to win a race. Switzerland’s Lara Gut reminded everyone of that on Friday when she won the alpine combined race in Val d’sere, France – beating Lindsey Vonn of the USA by the smallest margin possible in the sport.
“It was not like Mikaela skis, but I tried to give my best,” Gut said, referring to the slalom skills of injured American skier, Mikaela Shiffrin. “This year is different. I feel safer on the skis. I can do what I want and not just try to do something. So it’s nice to ski like that.”
After the morning’s downhill run, Vonn had a healthy 0.38 lead over Gut, and almost a 3-second advantage over Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser – who ultimately finished third overall for the day. Yesterday, Vonn said that she wanted a 2.5-second lead over Kirchgasser going into the slalom to feel comfortable.
“I mean it was a pretty good run,” Vonn said. “I definitely can ski a little bit better for tomorrow. But it was solid. Hopefully, it’s enough of a gap for slalom, but yeah, I think I’m in a pretty good position.”
In the downhill portion of the combined, Americans Laurenne Ross, Jackie Wiles and Stacey Cook had strong showings in fourth, sixth and seventh, and they hope to carry that momentum into Saturday’s downhill.
“Definitely gave me a little confidence,” Ross said. “Reminded me of how fast I can be. And if I clean up the mistakes I made, I can be right in there.”
Fast even after dislocating her shoulder in a crash in the finish area during the training run the day before.
“It’s definitely painful today,” the American continued. “It’s tough to get my arm up. Getting out of the start was really hard. And it’s pretty much painful in any position aside from hanging right next to my body.”
Between runs, the goal was to conserve energy and get some slalom turns in.
“I am going to go switch my boots and suit, and get some food, and train some slalom, and hopefully have a good feeling, but I am going to try and conserve my energy,” Vonn said after the first run. “This is a long day. Second run is at 1:45, and then we have bib draw and awards at 5:30, so it’s a pretty intense schedule.”
In the second run, Kirchgasser used her slalom expertise to move onto the podium for the first time since World Championships last year in the same event.
“I am pretty happy because it was a good downhill,” the Austrian said. “Three seconds behind Lindsey, yeah. But it was a good one for me … I’m on the podium. And maybe next time in the combined, it’s better.”
Nearly catching Kirchgasser was surprise slalom standout Marusa Ferk of Slovenia, who was second in the slalom run and fourth overall.
“I needed this result because in the last three seasons, I was two seasons out because of injury. So I was coming back this year in technical disciplines,” she said.
While she was not thrilled with her downhill run, she was more than pleased with the slalom.
“I hope that tomorrow this result will bring me up, and I will not do any stupid mistakes, and that I will finish in the top 30,” she continued.
When Vonn came down after her slalom run and saw the margin placing her in second, she smiled and began joking with Gut and Kirchgasser – happy about her performance.
“I mean I could analyze myself all day long, and I could find a hundredth on every single turn, but you know I gave it my best shot. And I think considering how much slalom I’ve trained, which is pretty much nothing, I think it was a really good performance,” Vonn said. “So, I’m happy with it. Maybe one hundredth faster would’ve been nice. But you know, you win and lose by hundredths all the time, so it’s just part of the sport.”
Missing from today’s race was Austria’s Anna Fenninger who won the only alpine combined World Cup event last year. She’s out for the season, rehabilitating a knee injury sustained while training for the World Cup 0pener in Soelden. In fact, of the 12 top-ranked combined skiers on the World Cup Start List, seven did not compete in today’s race due to retirement, injury, taking a year off, or prioritizing other events this season, even with a small globe on the line.
Despite the absence of some competitors, the top three had reason to celebrate and Kirchgasser and Vonn certainly showed it, breaking out into a champagne fight at the awards ceremony.
“We kind of give each other s– all the time,” Vonn said. “When I crossed the finish line, I thought she was beating me and I had some select words for her. But it turns out she didn’t beat me, so I think that was her revenge: douse me with champagne.”
The women’s tour stop in Val d’sere concludes on Saturday with the downhill at 10:30 am CET.
View more photos from this race here.
Fans can stay current on the World Cup circuit by downloading the new U.S. Ski Team iOS app powered by Ski Racing here.
by Hank McKee
- Gut, Head/Head/Head
- Vonn, Head/Head/Head
- Kirchgasser, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Ferk, Stoeckli/Head/
- Bailet, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Mowinckel, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Marsaglia, Voelkl/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Curtoni, Head/Head/Head
- Schnarf, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Brodnik, Stoeckli/
- Women’s World Cup combined, Val d’Isere, France, Dec. 18, 2015. … The 60th Criterium de la Premiere Neige. … It is the 10th race of the women’s 41 race World Cup schedule … the first of three scheduled combined races. … It is the 20th World Cup combined held at least in part at Val d’Isere. … Lindsey Vonn won the last two World Cup combined contests at the site in 2009 and 2010.
- It is the 14th career World Cup victory for Lara Gut … her first in combined. .. It is her second win of the season after taking the GS at Aspen. … Winning margin is .01 of a second. … Top three are within the same second. … Top five within two seconds.
- It is the 118th career World Cup podium for Lindsey Vonn … her 13th in combined. … It is her ninth World Cup podium at Val d’Isere in 11 career completed races at the site. … She also won two World Championships here. … It is, however, her only second-place finish. … She has been first or second in all five races she has completed this season.
- It is the 15th career World Cup podium for Michaela Kirchgasser … her fifth in combined. … She has never won a World Cup combined. … It is her first podium of the season.
- Laurenne Ross matches her career-best combined result. … It is a career-best combined result for Jacqueline Wiles and her third scoring finish of the season. … It is the fourth scoring finish of the season for Stacey Cook and her 104th career point finish. … It is the first World Cup scoring result for Sabrina Maier and Elisabeth Reisinger.
- Lindsey Vonn holds the lead of the World Cup overall standings 480-378 over Gut. … Frida Hansdotter (did not race) is third overall at 315. … Mikaela Shiffrin (did not race) is fourth at 296pts.
- Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup 1202-1024 over Italy. … The U.S. is third with 1015pts and Canada 10th with 255pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|21||5||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR||1:47.52||54.97||2:42.49||+4.19||30.44|
|31||3||206548||MAGG Ann Katrin||1994||GER||1:49.31||56.55||2:45.86||+7.56||54.92|
|33||45||465098||CAILL Ania Monica||1995||ROU||1:50.66||1:02.20||2:52.86||+14.56||105.77|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|