Career-best speed result for Mikaela Shiffrin

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CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — Lara Gut crashed. Mikaela Shiffrin was ecstatic after finishing fourth. Lindsey Vonn, meanwhile, was just happy to make it down safely in 12th.

It was an up-and-down day for the biggest names in women’s ski racing Sunday as Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia took advantage of bib No. 1 to win the first World Cup super-G of her career.

Stuhec finished 0.31 seconds ahead of Sofia Goggia of Italy and 0.70 in front of two-time overall champion Anna Veith of Austria.

Gut, the defending overall champion, was fastest through the first two checkpoints when she lost control and twisted around in the air. She was fortunate to land with her skis facing downhill and came away with only bruises on her right leg and arm, according to the Swiss team.

“That’s not the way I expected to end my weekend,” Gut, who won Saturday’s downhill, wrote on Facebook. “I’m OK. Ice will be my best friend for the next few days.”

Shiffrin missed the podium by 0.03 seconds and extended her overall lead to 80 points ahead of Gut after the best speed result of her career.

The American’s previous best speed result was 13th.

“That was really fun,” said Shiffrin, the Olympic and two-time world champion in slalom. “It felt like solid skiing, and I was taking the line that we inspected and maybe even more aggressive in some spots.

“Sometimes in speed if you feel good you’re slow, so when I came to the bottom, I was like, ‘That can’t be good.’ Then I saw I was in fourth and I was like, ‘What? No way,'” added Shiffrin, who was racing in Cortina for the first time. “So that was kind of cool, and I’m going to really look at the video and figure out what sort of things I can take from today.”

It was another perfect day in the resort known as the “Queen” of the Dolomites Range, with the Olympia delle Tofane course bathed in sunshine and uninhibited 360-degree views all across the valley.

While her coach, Chris Knight, set the course, Vonn took it easy after crashing the previous two days. Vonn, who has won a record 11 races in Cortina, is still regaining her form in super-G after returning recently from nearly a year out with knee and arm injuries.

It was the first time Vonn left Cortina without a win since 2009.

“It definitely wasn’t the weekend that I was hoping for, but I think all things considered it’s good that I’m still in one piece,” Vonn said. “It was definitely really conservative skiing, but I got to the finish and that was the most important part.

“I really didn’t want to risk everything today and not finish again and then have no confidence for the world championships,” Vonn added. “So I executed my plan, and now I just need a couple of days off. I’m definitely stiff from hitting the fence so hard two times in a row. Get a couple good days of super-G training in and I think I’ll be ready to go.”

Stuhec won the opening three downhills of this season but had never finished better than fourth in super-G.

“It wasn’t a usual super-G,” Stuhec said. “It was faster with a few less turns, but in the end you need to ski whatever they set.”

With her ninth podium result this season, Goggia matched the Italian women’s team record of nine set by Deborah Compagnoni in 1996-97 and 1997-98.

Goggia is still seeking her first career win.

“I skied at 70-75 percent of what I can do,” Goggia said. “I was coming off two DNFs in super-G, so I’m happy with the result and I know I can push harder and harder. … I’m just thinking about skiing and doing the right things, and then the win will come.”

It was the first podium result for Veith since she returned in December, 14 months after badly damaging her right knee in a training crash.

Veith, formerly known as Anna Fenninger, achieved the first podium result of her career in a super-G in Cortina in 2009.

“It’s not exactly the same feeling, but it was nearly the same because it was also surprising for me,” Veith said. “I knew I could ski fast, but I had only had fast split times. Today I put together the entire run, and I’m happy that it was enough.”

Still recovering from hip surgery, Julia Mancuso delayed her return after nearly two years out and tested the course instead as a forerunner.

Up next is a parallel city event in Stockholm on Tuesday — the final race before the world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, from Feb. 7-19.

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