Switzerland’s Corinne Suter brings back the Downhill World Championships gold medal to the Swiss Ski team 32 years after their last successful racer, Maria Walliser.
By Daphne Seberich
After tough weather days at the start of the Championships week, Cortina dished up a dream day for the women’s downhillers. Cloudless blue skies and crisp temperatures greeted the field as one of the most scenic downhill courses in the world, had a chance to truly shine for the Women’s Downhill FIS Alpine World Ski Championship race.
The Swiss women continued their march through Cortina, earning another two speed medals thanks to, once again, the work of Corinne Suter and Lara Gut-Behrami. Today it was Suter’s turn to shine as she claimed her first career World Championship gold medal.
Corinne Suter became the first Swiss skier to win the Women’s Downhill FIS Alpine World Ski Championships title in 32 years (Maria Walliser was the last Swiss world champion in women’s downhill) with the victory at Cortina d’Ampezzo. The 2021 Super-G silver medalist dominated the Olympia delle Tofane piste, built for the 1956 Winter Olympics, to win her second medal of the 2021 Alpine World Ski Championships in cold and clear conditions.
That triumph made her only the second woman ever to win a medal in both downhill and Super-G at two separate World Championships, having also achieved the feat in 2019; American Lindsey Vonn (2007, 2009) is the only other skier to have done so.
Germany’s Kira Weidle took silver, while Suter’s teammate and pre-race favorite Lara Gut-Behrami, the Super-G event winner, won bronze. Two-time defending champion Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia could only finish 14th.
Photo credits: DE 24 News, Olympic Channel & Pentaphoto
To kick it off, Francesca Marsaglia was the first to challenge the Olympia delle Tofane slope. With a time of 1:35.81, she set the bar for the other competitors. Swiss racer Jasmina Suter and Italian teammate Laura Pirovano attempted to dethrone Marsaglia from provisional first place. Only Pirovano managed to beat her teammate’s time, serving her a 37 hundredths of a second advantage at the finish line. Nadia Delago with bib number 4 squeezed in-between Pirovano and Marsaglia to secure an all-Italian podium on home soil.
Although her run was characterized by many mistakes, Breezy Johnson ended the Italian dominance by beating the leader’s time by 27 hundredths of a second.
Åre 2019 Downhill and Cortina 2021 Super G silver medal winner Corinne Suter set green intermediates throughout her run, ending it 9 tenths ahead of Johnson. Swiss teammate Michelle Gisin earned the provisional runner-up podium spot, 5 tenths behind Suter but was shortly after beaten by Czech Ledecká by 6 hundredths of a second.
German skier Kira Weidle came the closest to dethroning Suter but didn’t quite manage to get the top spot, crossing the finish line 2 tenths behind the Swiss athlete.
After winning her maiden gold medal on Thursday in the Super G event, Lara Gut-Behrami had a really strong performance, setting green intermediates throughout her run. Unfortunately, she didn’t quite manage to dethrone her teammate but still earned a spot on the podium with a 37 hundredths of a second delay.
Ilka Stuhec, who won the Downhill gold medal in the World Championships in 2017 and 2019, could not do anything against Corinne Suter’s superiority, having to hand over her the World Championship title.
The last Italian to compete on the Olympia delle Tofane slope was Elena Curtoni. It was a very close fight for a podium position, but the way she skied the last section of the slope was not good enough for a podium position. She ended up crossing the finish line 83 hundredths behind Suter.
“My run was really good, I did what I wanted to ski, what I needed to give me the space and take the speed with me,” Suter told FIS. She added that her Super-G silver medal gave her confidence: “More than I first thought, I always knew in downhill I had more chances and then I started with a silver medal in Super-G. “Today was a new day, I felt really good in the morning, and I knew I did everything I could.”
Weidle was 0.2 seconds behind in second, having looked like potentially threatening Suter for gold. “It’s still kind of unbelievable, I’m just happy,” Weidle told Eurosport after the race. “I was hoping for a medal, it was my biggest goal today. While I was racing I really felt good, no big mistakes. I knew I could be fast, Corinne was just faster.”
Thanks to the exploits of Gut-Behrami and Suter, Switzerland holds a strong lead in the overall medal count with four in total. While the Swiss men were shut out of the medals in the Super-G event, they have several favorites for the Downhill event that can help to build on the lead.