As she stood on the top spot of the World Cup downhill podium for the third time in a row on Saturday, Ilka Stuhec shook her head in disbelief, apparently stunned by her own success. The Slovenian maintained control of the downhill standings with her second victory in as many days at Val d’Isere.
The win was hard fought. Before the first racer kicked out of the start gate, the track had already been skied three times for training runs and Friday’s alpine combined, making the track a bumpy ride. Stuhec was able to stay strong and take the win by 0.28 seconds.
“Everyday, everyone is sliding through it,” the Slovenian said. “It’s been the fourth day today that we’ve skied the course, and it’s always getting a bit wilder, I guess. I just tried to ski it the way I imagined it. It didn’t work out that way, but apparently, fast enough.”
Stuhec was joined on the podium by Austrian Cornelia Huetter and Italian Sofia Goggia, who earned second and third place, respectively. Huetter now has ten World Cup podium finishes to her name, and this marked her first of the 2016-17 season.
“It’s amazing,” she shared. “The last weeks were not very good for me, and it’s hard to rehab again and find the speed from the last year. Today was not easy in my head, but at the end, it’s good.”
The Austrian also commented that course was bumpier and felt a bit faster on Saturday. That combined with the fact that most of the course is in shadows meant athletes had to “stand forward to the ski and feel really self-confident.”
Goggia repeated her performance from the alpine combined. The always humorous Italian jokingly requested that reporters not ask her how it feels to be on the podium so many times in a row because she would simply say, “It feels great.” Instead of talking about her own strong performance, she mentioned the success of her team as there were four Italians in the top 10.
“I’m happy for them because I know they work hard,” she shared. “They have also some physical problems, but we are downhill lions. It’s our hashtag, so today we can stay connected to this hashtag.”
Goggia also has a friendly relationship with the day’s winner, and noted how hard Stuhec has worked to earn these downhill wins.
“Ilka is a really nice person, a nice girl who suffered also a lot of injuries on the knees, so we start from the same ground because we know what suffering means with all the trouble, physical, mental,” the Italian explained. “…If she worked as hard as I did, she really deserved this.”
Goggia currently sits in second in the overall standings with 467 points, just 31 behind Shiffrin, who is leading. Stuhec has moved into the top three with 445 total points. Switzerland’s Lara Gut did not finish the downhill race and sits in fourth in the overall standings with 393 points.
One of the most notable performances of the day came from Gut’s teammate Michelle Gisin. The Swiss athlete took her momentum from yesterday and channeled it into a seventh-place result in the downhill, coming from bib 51.
After Friday’s performance in the downhill run in the alpine combined, fans had hoped to see American Laurenne Ross go for the win in the downhill. However, the athlete was struck by the flu the night before the race and made the choice to not start on Saturday. Ross’ teammates had strong performances in her absence. Young gun Breezy Johnson lead the U.S. Ski Team with a 13th-place result.
“I worked really hard all summer, so it’s really great to see it pay off in a place like this where I really didn’t expect a whole lot because I’ve never raced here before,” Johnson said. “My technician and I were talking and he was like ‘Anything above 25 is really just bonus points,’ so I’m really excited about being able to come here and maybe notch a top 15. That’s way more than I ever could have expected.”
Alice McKennis finished the day in 14th while Stacey Cook and Jacqueline Wiles earned top 30 results, coming in 21st and 22nd respectively. Leanne Smith ended up in 36th position.
Ladies’ World Cup racing continues tomorrow with super-G in Val d’Isere.
- Ilka Stuhec (SLO) – Stoeckli / Lange / Marker
- Cornelia Huetter (AUT) – Voelkl / Marker / Dalbello
- Sofia Goggia (ITA) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Nadia Fanchini (ITA) – Dynastar / Lange / Look
- Johanna Schnarf (AUT) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Elena Fanchini (ITA) – Dynastar / Lange / Look
- Michelle Gisin (SUI) – Rossignol / Rossignol / Rossignol
- Tina Weirather (LIE) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Christine Scheyer (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
- Ramona Siebenhofer (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|31||22||426043||TVIBERG Maria Therese||1994||NOR||1:48.98||+2.84||33.45|
|47||53||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||1:52.78||+6.64||78.20|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|