Austria’s Stephanie Venier tames rough downhill for first World Cup win

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Racing was halted almost before it started in Germany today in the women’s World Cup downhill. When the second and third skiers out of the gate flew through the air off a jump further than the FIS race director felt was safe, crews were on the course making adjustments, shaving down the Seilbahn Stadl, or Gondola Barn, jump.

Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel was next up, skiing fourth. Mowinckel’s guinea pig run was a success, as teams began relaying the new course recon up to the start gate.

Watching her fellow skiers find the best line to the finish, Austria’s Stephanie Venier, skiing 11th, used the precious intel to her advantage, picking up her first World Cup win. Venier was able to relegate reigning Olympic downhill champion, Italy’s Sofia Goggia, to second place by .25 hundredths of a second. Venier was also on the downhill podium last weekend, taking third in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Goggia nabbed her second podium finish of the weekend, in what was her first World Cup event since fracturing her ankle earlier this season. Germany’s Kira Weidle, skiing on the home snow, finished third.

Full results are here.

Austria’s Cornelia Huetter, seventh in World Cup downhill standings, avoided serious injury and skied away from a nasty red-net crash when her skis knocked together to put her on her back in a rattly section on course.

The downhill in GaPa was the final speed event for the women before athletes head to Are, Sweden from February 4-17 for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

Prior to Worlds, the women’s World Cup will race giant slalom and slalom in Maribor, Slovenia next weekend. On Friday, the GS gets underway at 4:00 a.m. ET and slalom begins on Saturday, also at 4:00 a.m. ET. Livestream both events on OlympicChannel.com or NBC Sports Gold.

Also on Sunday morning, the men were setting the Kitzbuehel Super-G course on fire with Germany’s Josef Ferstl picking up his first World Cup win of the season. France’s Johan Clarey and Italy’s Dominik Paris finished the day in second and third, respectively.

Full results are here.  

Next weekend the men’s tour takes over Garmisch-Partenkirchen, racing the downhill and giant slalom, after an early-week stop in Austria on Tuesday for a slalom competition. Catch the downhill from GaPa live Saturday morning on Olympic Channel or stream it on NBC Sports Gold starting at 5:30 a.m. ET. The second run of the men’s giant slalom on Sunday can be seen live on Olympic Channel at 7:30 a.m. ET, with streaming coverage beginning at 4:30 a.m. ET on OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold.

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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