CRANS MONTANA, Switzerland — On Friday, Federica Brignone of Italy took the first victory of the 3-day weekend in Crans Montana, Switzerland, dominating the alpine combined with a total time of 1:56.09. She was joined on the podium by Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia in second and Michaela Kirchgasser of Austria in third. Both athletes were more than a second off the winning pace.
Coming into the first race of the weekend, World Cup women, coaches, FIS staff and the organizing committee knew conditions might be tough due to expected fog and fresh snow. It was all in the weather report at the team captain’s meeting the night before, but everyone was hopeful the surface could be ready to race.
Flash forward to the super-G run at 10:30 am CET, and things were not quite as everyone had hoped. After several forerunners including Olympian Julia Mancuso crashed, the race began with the first three athletes–Stuhec, France’s Tessa Worley and Switzerland’s Denise Feieraband–all skiing out. The third athlete, Feieraband, crashed hard, limped off the course and was taken down in a sled for further evaluation. It was at that time that the jury re-evaluated and decided to restart the race from the reserve start at 11:30 am CET.
By that time, the U.S. Ski Team’s Lindsey Vonn had already decided she would not start the race due to safety concerns over the soft, slippery snow. She was joined in her decision by teammates Mikaela Shiffrin and Laurenne Ross.
“It’s dangerous,” Shiffrin said. “I said before, coming into this series, knowing the weather was supposed to be warm with some snow and rain, that if it wasn’t good, I’m not going to race. I don’t have enough experience in speed, but to be honest it’s just dangerous. It’s so soft at the bottom.”
Vonn echoed Shiffrin’s sentiments, agreeing it was dangerous and adding, “For me, I’ve had so many injuries, I don’t need to risk anything today.”
Vonn, a leader amongst not only her own team, but amongst the entire field of athletes heard a lot of concerns voiced in the morning.
“A lot of the other athletes and coaches were asking me to put pressure on everyone to try to cancel the race because it’s too dangerous, and I did my best, but I just pray that no one else gets hurt today.”
At 11:30 am, the race began again at the lower start. Stuhec ran with bib 1 and this time, she charged down the super-G course to take the lead, overcoming nerves from her first go-around at the course. The Slovenian found herself 0.52 seconds ahead of Brignone and 0.69 seconds ahead of Kirchgasser, heading into the slalom portion of the day. Several top athletes like 2017 Alpine Combined World Championship silver medalist Michelle Gisin and Italy’s Sofia Goggia did not finish the super-G run due to the challenging conditions.
The sun was out and temperatures cooled as athletes prepared to ski through the disco sticks. Brignone, who had never podiumed in an alpine combined before, surprised herself with the win.
“I was really surprised,” the Italian said. “It was not easy. The slalom was really steep and bumpy, but I just tried to attack the slalom and not be attacked from the slalom. I tried to follow the rhythm and stay on the line, but then I didn’t think I would be fast, but then I was.”
Her slalom run gave her a big advantage over the current leader in the alpine combined standings, Stuhec.
“I’m feeling a bit tired actually,” she said. “It’s been quite a long day, but it’s always nice to stand on the podium, and we still have one more race to go, and then we can talk about the globe.”
The Slovenian speed star called the decision of some athletes not to start “brave,” adding that it takes courage to say you don’t feel comfortable starting a race. Just 0.17 seconds behind her was Kirchgasser, repeating her performance from World Championships in St. Moritz. This marked the Austrian’s seventh career World Cup podium in the discipline.
“It’s pretty cool because…between speed skiing and technical skiing, it’s really awesome because you really have to change all of it between runs,” Kirchgasser said. “You have to change not only just the skis, but also have to change the boots and also the skiing.”
Three other Americans, Jacqueline Wiles, Stacey Cook and Breezy Johnson, pushed out of the super-G start. Wiles and Cook did not finish the super-G run while Johnson decided to skip the slalom portion of the day.
There is one more alpine combined race on Sunday, which will determine who wins the discipline globe. Stuhec leads by a 40 point margin over Brignone. Before that globe is determined, the women will race a super-G on Saturday.
- Federica Brignone (ITA) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Ilka Stuhec (SLO) – Stoeckli / Lange /Atomic
- Michaela Kirchgasser (AUT) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Wendy Holdener (SUI) – Head / Head / Head
- Marusa Ferk (SLO) – Stoeckli / Salomon / Head
- Marie-Michele Gagnon (CAN) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Stephanie Brunner (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
- Lena Duerr (GER) – Voelkl / Marker / Dalbello
- Elena Curtoni (ITA) – Head / Head / Head
- Federica Sosio (ITA) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|14||27||426043||TVIBERG Maria Therese||1994||NOR||1:13.29||45.62||1:58.91||+2.82||27.94||18.00|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|61||197124||FRASSE SOMBET Coralie||1991||FRA|
|59||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG|