Brignone Takes Kvitfjell Super-G Win

Norwegian fans were hoping for a fairytale finish on home snow for the retiring Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR). Instead, they got a super-G masterclass in the fog from Federica Brignone (ITA).

Despite skiing in some of the worst visibility of a stop-start race, Brignone was in a class of her own in Kvitfjell on Sunday as she added another chapter to her storied career by becoming the first Italian woman to win 25 World Cup races.

The 33-year-old won for the fourth time this season, triumphing ahead of pre-race favourite Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI, +0.64s), with two-sport star Ester Ledecka (CZE, +0.79s) coming third to reach her first podium on skis in over two years.

"For sure it's a weird race, it was a hard day for all the girls," Brignone said, even though it looked effortless for her despite the conditions.

In the technical middle section that featured the worst of the visibility during her run, Brignone kept finding more and more time even as television cameras struggled to pick her up through the fog.

Only one skier later, the race was put on hold — not for the first or last time — due to lack of visibility, as it took nearly two-and-a-half hours for the first 30 skiers to take their turn and make the race official.

But none of that seemed to bother the 2020 overall champion, a poor-weather specialist who won a giant slalom race in heavy snow in Tremblant in December.

"I'm usually good when the start is moved or where there is some waiting and when there is no visibility — this I showed already this year," Brignone said.

"I was not seeing really good but I had everything in my mind and I was just focusing on my skiing and what I had to do."

In winning her 25th World Cup race, Brignone overtook teammate Sofia Goggia (ITA) in their ongoing battle and is now exactly halfway to the country's standard-bearer and the only Italian with more wins than her: the legendary Alberto Tomba.

Additionally, she became the seventh woman to win 10 World Cup super-G races and kept alive her slim chances of winning this season's discipline globe.

"For sure not that bad numbers," Brignone said. "I'm really proud about my career and my entire life."

The same could be said for crowd favourite Mowinckel, who announced earlier in the week that she would retire at the end of the season.

Unfortunately for the double Olympic medallist and four-time World Cup winner, however, she could not muster a final piece of magic on home snow and finished 10th.

The 31-year-old bowed and waved to adoring fans in the finish area, and celebrated a few skiers later when teammate Kajsa Vickhoff Lie (NOR) skied into second position, only to be bumped down to third by Gut-Behrami and ultimately off the podium by Ledecka.

"I apologise to all Norwegians, I'm sorry for that," said Ledecka.

The 2018 Olympic super-G champion endured a lengthy wait with bib No.19 but stayed focused to ski her best race of the season and reach her first Alpine skiing podium since February 2022 in Crans Montana.

"It's a little bit difficult because you have to always warm up, then you cool down, then you wait, then you have to warm up again, because it's starting again, then you cool down," Ledecka said. "So I had a lot of workout today at the top."

The triple Olympic champion in Alpine skiing and snowboard slotted into third, one place behind Gut-Behrami, who extended her super-G and overall leads as she continues her march towards four crystal globes.

"I'm happy about the way I skied," said the Swiss star, who won Saturday's first super-G. "Also in these conditions where it's soft, I'm not usually the best skier in those conditions."

Gut-Behrami now leads the super-G standings by 69 points over Conny Huetter (AUT, seventh) with one race left in the discipline, while she leads Brignone by 326 points in the race for the overall title with six races remaining.

Brignone's 100-point score lifted her 59 points above the absent Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), who slipped to third in the overall standings ahead of her possible return to the tour in Are, Sweden, next weekend.

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