Cornelia Huetter

Getty Images

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

Leave a comment

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 records downhill breakthrough (video)

Leave a comment

Mikaela Shiffrin didn’t plan to race the Olympic downhill. Maybe the plan will change.

The youngest Olympic slalom champion notched her first World Cup downhill podium in her third career World Cup downhill start in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Austrian Cornelia Huetter won, followed by Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather, .09 back. Shiffrin trailed Huetter by three tenths in third place.

Lindsey Vonn, who has won a record 18 times at Lake Louise, was en route to bumping Shiffrin off the podium (and possibly winning) when she crashed seconds before the finish line (video here).

Full results are here.

“I thought that I could be maybe, like, solidly top 10 or top five in downhill, but I wasn’t really expecting a podium,” Shiffrin said. “I think that would be really presumptuous.”

Downhill is Shiffrin’s least comfortable discipline and the opposite of her favored technical slalom. The U.S. is deep in the event, and Shiffrin has been hesitant to do more than dip her toes into the most dangerous of the Alpine disciplines.

She made her World Cup downhill debut last season in Lake Louise, finishing an impressive 13th and 18th in two races.

On Friday, Shiffrin was the 10th skier to start and crossed the finish line in the lead. She smiled and nodded emphatically. Weirather and Huetter followed with quicker times.

“I skied exactly how I thought that I could ski,” Shiffrin said. “Obviously, I have no control over the other girls, but I felt I was confident in my plan. I tried to stay in my tuck as much as I could. I tried to be soft on my edges. A couple of things that I know are fast in speed [events]. The rest will come with years [of experience].”

Shiffrin continued to show that she is a fast learner.

She made the podium in her fifth World Cup slalom start (2011) and second super combined start (winning a race last February).

Though Shiffrin memorably said in Sochi that she dreamed of winning five gold medals in 2018, that is an unreasonable expectation.

Shiffrin remains the world’s best slalom skier (though with a new rival) and ranked second in the giant slalom last season.

In five World Cup super-G starts, Shiffrin has finished in the top 10 once (a fourth place last season).

The super combined win last season came with the benefit of the first run being a super-G rather than the faster downhill that is typically used.

World Cup racing in Lake Louise continues with another downhill Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule