Ninth in the standings one year ago, Lara Gut‘s second career resurgence resulted in the first World Cup overall title for a Swiss woman in 21 years.
Gut clinched the biggest prize in Alpine skiing this season, with no Olympics or World Championships, when German Viktoria Rebensburg skied out of the World Cup Finals downhill in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
Gut then finished 13th, while Austrian Mirjan Puchner notched a shocking victory after coming into the day with a best World Cup finish of eighth.
Gut’s path to become the first Swiss woman to take the crystal globe since Vreni Schneider in 1995 was cleared by season-ending crashes to other skiers.
Austrian Anna Fenninger spilled three days before the season opener, ending her bid to take a third straight overall title. Lindsey Vonn was leading the World Cup overall standings, eyeing her fifth overall crown, when she crashed on Feb. 27.
Slovenian Tina Maze, the 2013 World Cup overall champ, skipped the season to rest and U.S. Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin missed two months due to a December crash.
The 24-year-old Gut emerged instead, winning six races so far this season to add to her 2014 Olympic downhill bronze medal. Her jump from ninth place in last year’s overall standings marked the largest leap to a title since Janica Kostelic went from 14th in 2002 to the top step in 2003.
Gut first burst onto the scene in 2009, winning two World Championships silver medals at age 17, making her one of the top challengers to Vonn going into the 2010 Olympics. But she missed those Games after dislocating her right hip in a September 2009 training crash.
She won two World Cup races total over the next four years but re-emerged in the 2013-14 Olympic season with seven World Cup victories and her first Olympic medal.
Gut regressed last season with two race victories and had little fanfare going into the 2015-16 campaign.
However, she was consistently strong this fall and winter while other contenders were sidelined, making the top of the podium in every discipline but slalom.