On Saturday morning, South Korea hosted its first women’s World Cup race in preparation for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang. The downhill track at Jeongseon ran just over 90 seconds filled with rolling terrain. Excitement levels were high as the ladies took to the new track for the first time in competition.
The sassy Italian Sofia Goggia crushed the new downhill course to take her first career World Cup win with a final time of 1:38.80. Just 0.07 seconds behind her was Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. Ski Team while Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec claimed third place, 0.23 seconds away from the win.
Goggia was all smiles when she come down in the green. Even as she was doing interviews later in the day, Goggia could hardly believe the win, which comes after nine podium results this season. That said she didn’t feel the victory was particularly difficult.
“It was not because I just skied for myself today,” she said. “I just tried to enjoy the slope, to push as hard as I could where I could and to use a little bit more tactics when required because in the training run, I both missed a gate, so I really tried to focus on myself and this paid off.”
No doubt the win was made more surreal by the fact that she beat Vonn, someone Goggia looks up to. The American, who was an Olympic downhill gold medalist in 2012 at Whistler, described the Jeongseon track as a “downhiller’s downhill” and feels like her second-place result bodes well for next year’s Winter Olympic Games.
“It’s definitely encouraging,” she said of her podium result. “Right away, even after the first inspection, I knew that it was going to be a good track for me, and I think there’s also something to be said for not winning the test events. Sometimes that can be quite a bit of extra pressure added on unnecessarily. I think I have enough of that, so I don’t really need anymore. I know where I can make up the time, and I think it definitely bodes well for next year.”
This finish marked Vonn’s 60th career World Cup downhill podium and the 128th World Cup podium result of her career, meaning the American has been on the podium in over one-third of the 373 World Cup races she has started.
Rounding out the top three was Stuhec, who learned a lot from the test event about where she can make up time on the track, adding that it’s different than any other venue.
“It’s actually different from any other that we have on the World Cup circuit because it has a lot of terrain, but it’s not too steep,” she said. “There’s really no room for mistakes because once you lose time, you can’t get it back, but yeah, it’s fun.”
Factored into the day was the fight for the World Cup downhill globe between Stuhec and Goggia. If Stuhec had finished in first or second place ahead of Goggia, she could have secured the globe, but the Italian was not ready to concede her shot at the downhill title.
The fight for the downhill title will continue in Aspen, Colo. at World Cup Finals. While Stuhec still holds the lead with 497 points, there are scenarios in the U.S. that would allow Goggia–who has 400 points–to end the season with the discipline globe.
Two Americans finished just off the podium. Laurenne Ross and Stacey Cook finished in fourth and sixth, respectively, both within a second of the win and less than half a second from the podium. Jacqueline Wiles finished in 11th place while Alice McKennis and Anna Marno finished in 27th and 41st. Breezy Johnson did not finish.
Two male members of the U.S. Ski Team, Travis Ganong and Andrew Weibrecht, were able to ski the track as forerunners, giving them an extra run down the hill where they will likely hunt for Olympic glory next year.
Racing action in South Korea continues on Sunday, March 5 at 11 am KST (Saturday, March 4 at 9 pm EST) with the women’s super-G.
- Sofia Goggia (ITA) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Lindsey Vonn (USA) – Head / Head / Head
- Ilka Stuhec (SLO) – Stoeckli / Lange /Atomic
- Laurenne Ross (USA) – Volkl / Marker / Dalbello
- Tamara Tippler (AUT) – Volkl / Marker / Dalbello
- Stacey Cook (USA) – Stoeckli / Atomic / Lange
- Jasmine Flury (SUI) – Stoeckli / Lange /NA
- Johanna Schnarf (AUT) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Corinne Suter (SUI) – Head / Head / Head
- Verena Stuffer (ITA) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|23||30||426043||TVIBERG Maria Therese||1994||NOR||1:41.28||+2.48||31.38||8.00|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|