When Tina Maze officially announced her retirement in October, fans may have wondered who would step up to carry the torch for Slovenia. It seems like Ilka Stuhec is the answer. On Friday in Val d’Isere, France, the Slovenian earned her third World Cup win of the season and her first ever in alpine combined. After skiing to third in the morning downhill run, she turned up the heat in slalom, winning with race with a combined time of 2:40.33. Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin finished in second, just 0.12 seconds off of the pace, while Italy’s Sofia Goggia rounded out the podium in third place.
The three women on the podium were a particularly cheerful trio during the flower ceremony as it was the first time on the alpine combined podium for all of them. Stuhec teared up as her national anthem played, and Gisin and Goggia enjoyed champagne showers and danced fearlessly in the finish area. Their happiness was palpable.
Stuhec, though not a slalom skier, managed to power to a win thanks to a strong second run.
“It feels great like every win. Well, all three of them,” she shared. “I felt confident in the start of the slalom, but still I know I could push a bit more, but maybe one part of me just wanted to get to the finish as well. But apparently, fast enough.”
For the Slovenian, it was particularly rewarding because of the role her mom plays on her team: ski technician.
“It’s really nice to have my mom around all the time,” she said. “I’m really glad that she does that even though it’s really hard work and it gets really tiring for her, but in the moments like this, I think everything is repaid.”
The Slovenian now leads in the alpine combined and downhill standings. Behind her in the race was Gisin, who came up with a new word to describe her emotions after earning her first World Cup podium.
“Amazing – I feel champagned,” she said excitedly. “I invented a new word because Ilka, when she opened the bottle, it was all in my eyes, so I couldn’t see and I just started to cry and run around the girls. But it’s so cool, I’m so happy, just overwhelming joy.”
The Swiss athlete admitted that it hasn’t been an easy start to the season, saying that she lost her confidence after Killington. However, thanks to the people who support her, she was able to enjoy the freedom of skiing again and get her groove back.
The Italian who accompanied her on the podium seems to have found her groove in every event she competes in. Goggia’s third place finish today marked her fifth World Cup podium. She has now earned a top-3 result in giant slalom, super-G, downhill and alpine combined, all in this season.
“It feels great,” she shared. “No other words needed. Great.”
True to form, when asked about future goals and a potential run for the overall title, she said she does not want to focus on the future.
“You know my philosophy of living: I’m just focusing day by day,” she said. “Tomorrow is another race, and tomorrow I’m going to do my best in downhill. But of course I’m not thinking of the overall. It’s so far away, I can’t see it.”
Even if she can’t see it, Friday’s results put her in second place in the overall rankings, just 91 points behind American Mikaela Shiffrin and 14 points ahead of Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who did not finish the slalom run in the alpine combined.
American Laurenne Ross might be looking ahead to tomorrow with excitement after showing her speed in the downhill portion of the alpine combined. The U.S. Ski Team athlete won the run and ultimately ended the day in 10th place, her second-best result ever in the discipline. Teammate Jacqueline Wiles finished the day in 32nd while Breezy Johnson did not start second run and Stacey Cook did not finish first run.
The women’s World Cup races continue on Saturday with the downhill race.
- Ilka Stuhec (SLO) – Stoeckli / Lange / Marker
- Michelle Gisin (SUI) – Rossignol / Rossignol / Rossignol
- Sofia Goggia (ITA) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Wendy Holdener (SUI) – Head / Head / Head
- Michaela Kirchgasser (AUT) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Federica Brignone (ITA) – Rossignol / Rossignol / Rossignol
- Denise Feierabend (SUI) – Head / Head / Head
- Anne-Sophie Barthet (FRA) – Head / Head / Head
- Rosina Schneeberger (AUT) – Voelkl / Marker /Lange
- Laurenne Ross (USA) – Voelkl / Marker / Dalbello
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|23||34||426043||TVIBERG Maria Therese||1994||NOR||2:44.38||+4.05||29.05|
|38||49||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG||2:51.59||+11.26||80.76|
|Disqualified 2nd run|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|