Lara Gut-Behrami can’t stop and won’t stop winning. The ultimate speed machine scored back-to-back wins in Val di Fassa, securing her lead at the top of the Overall standings.
By Daphne Seberich
Another day, another victory for Lara Gut-Behrami. The Swiss speed athlete dominated the second Downhill race in Val di Fassa, Italy. The Passo San Pellegrino course, which hosted the 2019 FIS Alpine Junior World Championships, was a replacement for the Olympic Test events in Beijing, which were canceled due to the pandemic.
Back-to-back wins seem to be the “Gut-way” of doing things. She’s completely commanding the Super G standings, with four events out of five won in a row, not to mention her incredible World Championships gold medal in Cortina. Can she recover and conquer the Downhill Crystal Globe as well?
Resilient teammate Corinne Suter managed to score a back-to-back podium result, although improving the position. On Friday’s race, the Swiss speedster earned third place. This time, she was just behind unbeatable Gut-Behrami in second, 32 hundredths off the pace. The reigning Downhill World Champion probably expected a victory from this speed weekend but can still consider herself pleased with the results.
Concluding the top-three, Kira Weidle stood on the lowest step of the podium for the third time in her World Cup career. The German Cortina Downhill silver medalist seemed to be in her best physical condition after her breakthrough on the Olympia Delle Tofane course.
To kick the race off, Elena Curtoni set the time to beat at 1:26.54. Three seconds slower than the winner’s time the day before. Jasmine Flury didn’t have a hard time beating the Italian’s performance. She took over the provisional lead of the race.
Breezy Johnson needed a podium result to still have a chance at the Downhill small Crystal Globe. A too pronounced lean towards a gate on the steepest part of the slope provoked her crashing into the barriers. A mistake that proved to be fatal for Johnson’s standings.
The Swiss Giant Slalom specialist Michelle Gisin seemed to be ahead of teammate Flury throughout her run, posting green intermediates. Only one-hundredth of a second of advantage aided her to dethrone the provisional leader.
2021 Downhill World Champion Corinne Suter blew it out of the park, serving her teammates Gisin and Flury over 49 and 50 hundredths of advantage. After five racers, the competition saw an all-Swiss podium, but Kajsa Vickhoff Lie ended the streak by placing behind Suter in second.
Friday’s Val di Fassa winner Lara Gut Behrami was just on another planet. Her advantage over provisional leader Suter increased intermediate by intermediate. The quality of her skiing was just unlike any other. Only injured Sofia Goggia could have attempted to beat the Swiss speed specialist.
Cortina Downhill Silver medalist Kira Weidle was skiing a clean racing line, but a little bit more aggressiveness was necessary on the Passo San Pellegrino slope. The German managed to recover over three tenths in the final part of the piste, earning a place on the lowest step of the podium.
After the tenth racer, Federica Brignone, the standings were in favor of the Swiss, with all of their athletes placed in the Top-6. The Italians were the worst team on home soil, being respectively all in the last three positions of the rankings.
Val di Fassa runner-up Ramona Siebenhofer attempted back-to-back podium positions. She came short of third place, losing out on Weidle’s position by eight-hundredths of a second.
The best Italian on home soil in Friday’s race, Laura Pirovano, proved to be Italy’s only hope for a good result, placing fifth in ex aequo with Norwegian Lie.
Petra Vlhova, who sees in Gut-Behrami the biggest competition and threat for the Overall Crystal Globe, tried to score a Top-10 finish as an attempt to not losing out on too many points against the Swiss. A 1.29 seconds delay was unfortunately not enough for a good result.
Photo credits: Sportnet – SME & Olympic Channel
107 points now separate the two contenders, with Gut-Behrami in the lead. Can Vlhova turn the tables around in Jasna, where two technical events (her specialties) will be held? And can Gut-Behrami go home at the end of the season with three Crystal Globes (Downhill, Super G & Overall)? The injured Sofia Goggia has now only a 97-points lead over the Val di Fassa winner and 80 over World Champion Suter. The ultimate showdown will be in Lenzerheide, where the big finals of this Alpine Skiing 2020/2021 season will take place from March 15th-21st.