Gut-Behrami And Odermatt Win Crystal Globes In Super-G
Switzerland's Marco Odermatt continued his scintillating alpine ski form on Thursday with victory at the final FIS World Cup Super G race of the season in Andorra as Sofia Goggia and Ester Ledecká also earned podium places on the weekly FIS circuit.
Odermatt clocked 1:23.91 to bank his sixth Super G victory out of eight races this season in winning his first Super G title with Austrian Marco Schwarz second, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde third, Italy's Dominik Paris seventh, Frenchman Alexis Pinturault 11th and Swiss Loïc Meillard 16th. Odermatt finished the 2022/2023 Super G standings on a mighty 740 points with Kilde second on 512, Vincent Kriechmayr third on 335 and 2020/2021 overall champion Pinturault ending in fifth place.
In Wednesday's men's downhill, Paris finished in fifth place an impressive 0.27s behind winner Kriechmayr with Odermatt in 15th and Pinturault in 24th place. Norwegian Kilde duly earned a second successive FIS World Cup downhill title with 760 points leaving Austrian Kriechmayr in second place on 614 and 25-year-old overall champion Odermatt back in third on 462.
In the women's downhill, Goggia finished second behind Slovenian Ilka Stuhec with Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami third after Goggia had already claimed a fourth downhill title, the Italian then finishing seventh in Thursday's Super G behind Gut-Behrami - who sealed the Super G title Italy's Federica Brignone and Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel as Kiwi Alice Robinson failed to finish.
Gut-Behrami's 37th World Cup win proved decisive. Lara Gut-Behrami stamped her status as one of the very best super-G skiers of all time as she produced a breathtaking final run in Soldeu to grab her fourth season-long Crystal Globe title, narrowly denying fellow superstar Federica Brignone at the death.
With the top five skiers in the standings separated by just 44 points heading into the deciding race, this was billed as one of the highlights of the Audi FIS World Cup Finals and it did not disappoint.
Brignone was the first of the contenders out of the gate. Lying fifth in the standings, the Italian knew exactly what she needed to do. And the prolonged roars from the defending super-G champion in the finish area sent her rivals a clear message she had done it. Calm and direct on the sharp, straight top section, Brignone’s technical skills sent her flying through the tough, turney lower half to a time of 1:26.92. It proved too much for Ragnhild Mowinckel. The Norwegian, lying fourth overall, was aiming to become the first female Norwegian racer ever to take the super-G season title but she was unable to match Brignone’s combination, falling 0.25 seconds behind. That left the way clear for Gut-Behrami, out in bib No.10. Racing in her 15th season, the Swiss star had the small matter of 18 previous World Cup super-G wins plus Olympic and world championship super-G golds to lean on and that class shone through. A magical top section saw her build a three-tenths of a second advantage on the first split over Brignone and she never looked back. Calm and composed as the soft, spring snow got rutted lower down, Gut-Behrami, even in this field, looked untouchable.And so it proved. First Connie Huetter, third before the start, failed to match the Swiss, fading on that demanding lower section, and then up stepped Elena Curtoni.
After four months and seven previous races, it all came down to the Italian, out in bib No.15. Curtoni stood at the top knowing that Gut-Behrami’s performance meant her 19-point advantage meant nothing: only a win would deliver the 32-year-old her first ever Crystal Globe.But with the pressure at its absolute highest, Curtoni faltered. A drift out of the line at the top of the jump where she crashed in yesterday’s downhill was understandable and from there the tenths-of-a-second continued to fall away for the Italian. In a sign of the ruthless nature of ski racing, Curtoni’s 10th place finish meant that for the second day in a row she dropped off the season standings podium, to finish fourth. In a neat piece of symetry, the Gut-Behrami-Brignone-Mowinckel race day podium matched the Crystal Globe podium.
It was left to the race winner and the new champion to best sum it all up.“It’s an emotional day, the win, the Globe, Nicole (Schmidhofer) quitting. I am getting older and I am getting more emotional, it’s crazy. I am crying all the time but it’s a nice feeling sometimes,” said Gut-Behrami, for whom it was a 37th World Cup win.
“I am really happy the way I skied, it was finally the way I wanted to ski. I felt free and fast. It’s really nice to end the season like that, to win a super-G to win the Globe. It was intense.”
Brignone may have narrowly lost out on defending her title but given the identity of the person who pipped her, the Italian was all smiles. “Today I am not angry, I am not sad, I am really proud of myself. I was the fifth one, my only chance was to give everything and I made it,” Brignone said in the finish area. “So I am really proud of my skiing, my attitude, just Lara was better than me. She is a great champion, she won so many times. It was a good fight.”
An equally upbeat Mowinckel was delighted that the thrilling race to the title showed off the very best of Alpine skiing. “I am extremely happy about it. It has been an even season with a lot of competitors and it was a great fight up until the very last race and that is what I think this sport is about,” she said.
Wednesday also saw women's parallel giant slalom snowboard action in Rogla, Slovenia as Czech star Ledecká finished second on her return from November collarbone surgery behind Austrian Sabine Schoeffmann with Japan's Tsubaki Miki third.