Wednesday marked the first day of World Cup speed competition at Aspen, Colo. in a decade, but the venue has a long history with the World Cup, hosting its first race in March of 1968. The 2016-17 World Cup Finals kicked off with the men racing downhill at 9:30 am local time, and the women starting off at 11:00 am local time. The sun blazed down on Ruthie’s Run, making the snow progressively softer throughout the morning.
The not-so-overnight Slovenian sensation Ilka Stuhec held nothing back in the final World Cup downhill run of the season, winning the race with a total time of 1:36.95 and securing her first ever World Cup downhill globe with a total of 597 points. Coming into the race with a 97-point lead in the discipline standings, Stuhec could have skied conservatively, but that’s not her style.
“I wanted to do like every other time this season like ski the best way possible and do my best and we’ll see what comes, and ending the season with a win and a globe, it’s pretty good,” she shared.
Stuhec is the first Slovenian woman to ever win the downhill crystal globe, and has already locked up the alpine combined globe.
American Lindsey Vonn put on a good show for the home crowd, coming in second place, just 0.66 seconds away from the win. Vonn has been making a valiant effort to regain her confidence and strength this season after a year off snow due to a fracture in her tibial plateau last February and a spiral fracture in her right humerus in November. Despite not racing a complete season, she was able to end the season in fourth position in the downhill rankings.
“Wasn’t too fast on the splits and on the flats, but think I skied really well most other sections of the course,” Vonn said. “I’m excited for tomorrow because we don’t have to ski the flats at the beginning, so hopefully I’ll be faster.
Rounding on the podium was Italy’s Sofia Goggia in third place. The Italian was the only possible threat to Stuhec’s downhill globe, and her third-place result means she ends the season in second place in the rankings with 460 points.
“It was really an unexpected season and I am really happy with the results I achieved, but still it’s never enough,” Goggia explained. “Results are never enough, and I’m hungry for more.”
In the small 20-skier field, six of the athletes were on the U.S. Ski Team, meaning Americans made up about 30 percent of the field. Laurenne Ross skied to a fifth-place finish, one of her best results of the 2016-17 season. Jacqueline Wiles finished in 14th place while Stacey Cook and Alice Merryweather ended the day in 16th and 19th, respectively. This was Merryweather’s World Cup debut. The young athlete earned her spot thanks to her Junior World Championship downhill win in Are, Sweden.
“I wanted to podium at World Juniors, and knew I could do it, but never thought I’d win – and even if I did win, I never imagined I’d actually be here racing at World Cup Finals in Aspen,” Merryweather said.
Breezy Johnson did not finish after taking a gnarly crash towards the end of the course. She was able to walk off the course on her own.
World Cup Finals action continues on Thursday, March 16 with the men’s and women’s super-G races, where Stuhec will try to secure the super-G globe.
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- Ilka Stuhec (SLO) – Stoeckli / Lange /Atomic
- Lindsey Vonn (USA) – Head / Head / Head
- Sofia Goggia (ITA) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Tina Weirather (LIE) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Laurenne Ross (USA) – Voelkl / Marker / Dalbello
- Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Tamara Tippler (AUT) – Voelkl / Marker / Dalbello
- Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) – Stoeckli / Lange / Marker
- Johanna Schnarf (ITA) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Christine Scheyer (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|Did not finish 1st run|