FIS Race Director Atle Skaardal’s “local farmer friend” predicted the fog would clear, but at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning, it looked like he may have been overly optimistic. Thick fog blanketed the valley and the super G course, so the jury decided to remix the alpine combined, running the slalom first. Athletes standing near the lift quickly executed a wardrobe change, replacing forearm guards with shin guards.
Hometown hero, Wendy Holdener, knifed the slalom run in front of her family. The Swiss skier took advantage of the crowd’s energy and her familiarity with the slope, creating a 0.49-second lead heading into the super G.
“I heard it on the top when I was in the start,” she said of the crowd’s cheering. “It’s nice to be home. The crowd is amazing and I like that my family is here.”
Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser skied into second place in the slalom followed by Canadian Marie-Michele Gagnon, who wore a red leader bib along with Switzerland’s Lara Gut.
Fog continued to blow in and out of the valley all day, but officials were able to get the super G race off after a half-hour start delay in the afternoon.
Holdener battled the tough conditions and kept her lead, winning the race and gaining enough points to claim the alpine combined crystal globe for the season.
“The beginning I saw only the crowd,” Holdener recalled. “They were crazy. And then I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I am on the podium.’ And then, when I saw the green a light, a big stone fell from my heart. I couldn’t believe it. I have no words for that.”
Holdener was nervous in the start, something that was compounded by the pressure of performing in front of her fellow countrymen.
““I didn’t like that some of the people come to me and say ‘Now, you bring it at home, right?’ And it’s not always easy,” she explained. “We have a lot of pressure especially when we are at home. I was nervous on the start, but then when I did the first mistake, it was gone and I had to go. I still couldn’t believe that I won this race.”
She was accompanied on the podium by teammate and World Cup overall points leader Lara Gut, who was happy to be back on the podium and move her focus to finals in St. Moritz later this week. When asked about the weather’s effect on her third-place result, she had a positive attitude.
“The fog came and went back,” she said. “I don’t know if I had more than the others or less, but when you’re in the start gate, you know, it happens. It’s part of the game and I just try to give my best. I didn’t see every gate, but I wasn’t the only one.”
Between the two Swiss athletes was Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser, earning her second podium finish of the season.
Laurenne Ross was the lone American racer, landing in seventh place and earning a career-best alpine combined result. The 14-spot move was made possible by her super G run, which was the fastest of the day. Northern neighbor Gagnon finished in fifth place, robbing her of a top-3 finish in the alpine combined standings.
Action continues this week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Men and women come together for World Cup finals, starting with women’s downhill training on Monday.
by Hank Mckee
- Holdener, Head/Head/Head
- Kirchgasser, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Gut, Head/Head/Head
- Feierabend, Head/Head/Head
- Gagnon, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Barthet, Head/Head/Head
- Ross, Volkl/Lange/Marker
- Schnarf, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Marsaglia, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
- Haaser, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Women’s World Cup combined, Lenzerheide, Switzerland, March 13, 2016. … It is the 36th race of the women’s 41 race schedule. … The fourth of four alpine combineds (third held after one cancellation – Crans Montana Feb. 14). … It is the 44th World Cup race hosted by Lenzerheide, the second alpine combined.
- It is just the second career World Cup win for Wendy Holdener, the first a city event parallel in Stockholm earlier this season (Feb. 23). … It is the ninth win of the season for Switzerland. … Winning margin is 0.46 of a second. … Top five are within the same second. … Top six within two seconds.
- It is the 16th career World Cup podium for Michaela Kirchgasser. … Her sixth in combined. … It is her second podium of the season, both in combined.
- It is the 31st career World Cup podium for Lara Gut. … Her 11th this season.
- Marie-Michele Gagnon matches her seventh best career World Cup placing. … Her second best in combined. … It is her third best result of the season and second best in combined after the win at Soldeau Feb. 28. … It is the fifth best World Cup result of the season for Laurenne Ross and her career best in combined. … It is also a career best in combined for Erin Mielzynski.
- Gut leads the World Cup overall standings 1362-1235 over Lindsey Vonn (did not race). … Viktoria Rebensburg (did not race) is third overall with 1007pts.
- Holdener takes the lead of the combined standings with no races remaining on the schedule with 198pts to 160 for Gut. … Kirchgasser is third with 153. … Gagnon finishes fourth with 145 and Vonn ties for fifth at 100pts.
- Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup standings 4270-3896 over Italy. … Switzerland is third with 3671pts. … The U.S. is fourth with 2808pts and Canada eighth with 1263pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|25||39||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||45.98||1:22.34||2:08.32||+9.01||86.85|
|26||40||35177||SIMARI BIRKNER Angelica||1994||ARG||48.21||1:26.22||2:14.43||+15.12||145.74|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|