VAL D’ISERE, France – Swiss star Lara Gut was unsure of what to name her career-first prize cow after putting on a downhill clinic of precision against the best speed skiers in the world, but she was pretty certain of who to ask for some help with the task.
“I never owned one so that’s something new. We’ll figure out what we’re going to do with a cow,” Gut said after a victory that closed the gap to within two points of Lindsey Vonn in the overall World Cup standings. “I’m going to ask my mom because it’s her birthday today, so I think it’s up to her to find a name.”
Gut carved tighter lines down the Oreiller Killy slope than anyone else on the day, ultimately claiming the win by 0.16 seconds over fellow countrywoman Fabienne Suter. Independent Canadian skier Larisa Yurkiw completed the podium in third.
“I had to change just one turn where yesterday I had some troubles. So today I made it the way I wanted. I was pretty happy but then I was like, ‘OK, now stay focused until the finish.’ I was solid, I felt great. I knew that if I’m skiing the way I can, I can be fast. And I was really thinking to do that, so it’s cool,” said Gut, who has now won three races this season in three different disciplines. “It helps me a lot if I’m feeling great in GS. If I’m fast in GS then I’m faster even in super G and downhill. I think the new skis are helping me a lot.”
Pre-race favorite Vonn, who has found both triumphant victory and utter defeat at Val d’Isere in the past, failed to finish her run after catching the inside edge of her left ski just before passing over a roll. With a 0.74-second advantage over then-leader Yurkiw through the second split time, Vonn launched from the terrain out of balance and pulled off an athletic recovery to avoid a crash but was too far off line to continue down the course. She was visibly disappointed after the race and declined interviews in the finish area, but will likely return with a vengeance in Sunday’s giant slalom race at nearby Courchevel.
The runner-up on the day, Suter, has been on an absolute tear in downhill this season. She collected a follow-up second-place finish to one earlier this month at Lake Louise after a two-year podium drought. She was tied with Gut at the first interval and within touch all the way to the finish.
“I never thought before the season that I could have two podiums in three downhills, so I’m very happy and I hope I can continue like this,” Suter said. The 30-year-old World Cup veteran changed up her summer routine which may have contributed, in an unconventional manner, to her early season success. “I was working in an Adventure Park, and … at the beginning it was a little bit hard for me because I was scared to be high up in the trees. I didn’t feel very safe. But by the end I felt very comfortable and I’m proud I made this step. … Sometimes it’s good to do stuff in the summer where you have to take risks, you have to go further than you were, and I think it was a good thing.”
The second podium of the season for Suter was followed up by a second career podium for Yurkiw. The independent skier who participates in a race day cooperation with the German, Swedish, and Norwegian teams found herself back at the flower ceremony for the first time since her second-place finish in Cortina last season after holding the race lead through seven challengers. She posted the fastest opening training run of the week but missed multiple gates in the process.
“This week’s been a bit hairy and the training’s been all over the place, so I’m happy to have pushed. I kind of wanted to get to a point where mistakes might happen but I was in a better place rather than a little bit passive and maybe top 10,” said Yurkiw, who made up significant time on the lower third of the course. “Gas pedal. That bottom section of the course is a highway and there’s no real right way – just a place to send it – so I’ve been fast all week there, and I kind of just trusted that it was all or nothing.”
The U.S. Ski Team was led by Laurenne Ross in 10th and followed by Alice McKennis in 12th, Stacey Cook 16th, and Jackie Wiles, who matched her second-best career finish in 17th. Vonn will race Sunday’s giant slalom, but the rest of the speed team is now looking forward to traveling home for the holidays.
“It was better than any of my runs have been. I had a few spots that I still could clean up a bit, but I kept my speed going and tucked as much as I could. And I’m happy with it given how my body is feeling right now,” said Ross of her result. “We all had really good downhill runs yesterday. We all need to clean things up a little bit. But as a group we’re really pushing each other and excelling together, and it’s cool to have that dynamic to push us in the right direction.”
Tomorrow’s giant slalom at Courchevel, France, is set to start at 10:30 a.m. CET.
View more photos from this event here.
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By Hank McKee
1 Gut, Head/Head/Head
2 Suter, Dynastar/Lange/Dynastar
3 Yurkiw, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
4 Huetter, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
5 Weirather, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Suter, Head/Head/Head
7 Schmidhofer, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Puchner, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9 Miklos, Head/Head/Head
10 Ross, Volkl/Lange/Marker
- Women’s World Cup downhill, Val d’Isere, France, Dec. 19, 2015. … It is the 11th of 41 races on the women’s schedule … the third of nine downhills. … It is the 64th World Cup downhill held at Val d’Isere. … Lindsey Vonn is the defending champion.
- It is the 15th career World Cup win for Lara Gut … her fifth in downhill … her second in downhill at Val d’Isere following the win Dec. 14, 2012. … It is her third win of the season and second of the weekend. … Seven of her eight finishes this season have been top-10 placings. She has personally accounted for all of Switzerland’s World Cup wins this season.
- It is the 17th World Cup podium for Fabienne Suter … her sixth in downhill, and her second in downhill this season.
- It is the second career World Cup podium for Larisa Yurkiw following a second in DH at Cortina Jan. 16, 2015. … She owns the first and third best finishes of the season for Canada.
- It is the 10th career top-10 World Cup finish for Laurenne Ross and her best finish of the season. … Alice McKennis matches her 12th best career result … and this is her best result of the season. … Stacey Cook matches her 41st best World Cup finish and notches her third best finish of the season. … Jacqueline Wiles matches her second-best career result from Lake Louise earlier this season (Dec. 5).
- Lindsey Vonn (DNF in race) leads the World Cup overall standings 480-478 over Gut. …Frida Hansdotter (did not race) is third with 315pts. … Mikaela Shiffrin (did not race) is fourth with 296pts.
- Fabienne Sutter matches Vonn for the lead of the downhill standings with 200pts. … Huetter is third with 190pts. … Yurkiw is fifth with 118pts and Stacey Cook seventh with 84pts.
- Austria leads the women’s Nations Cup 1373-1141 over Switzerland. … The U.S. is third with 1092pts and Canada eighth with 315pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|37||29||425880||SEJERSTED Lotte Smiseth||1991||NOR||1:47.70||+3.19||38.15|
|47||52||465098||CAILL Ania Monica||1995||ROU||1:49.99||+5.48||65.54|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|46||206548||MAGG Ann Katrin||1994||GER|