LAKE LOUISE, Alberta- In the first Downhill of the year, Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec took home the gold. In a total stunner Italy’s Sophia Goggia and Sweeden’s Kasja Kling rounded out the podium.
This was the first Lake Louise race without Lindsey Vonn in a long time. The place has been given the moniker “Lake Lindsey,” she has been so dominant there that out of the whole field only one person had won at Lake Louise.
The race was literally anyone’s to take. It was the twenty-six year old Slovene skier, Stuhec who took advantage of the absent Vonn and took home her first ever World Cup victory.
Lara Gut was expected to win the race without Vonn there to stop her and she seemed like she was about to do just that until Kasja Kling came up 10 racers later and beat her time. Then it looked like it was a done deal, people were coming up to Kling and congratulating her and 11 skiers later Italy’s Sophia Goggia bested her time. It seemed then, like Goggia would win the race until Stuhec went next and shocked everyone by coming away with the victory.
Stuhec took a fast line and gained a lot of time on the “gun barell” section of the course. She was able to keep from putting too much pressure on her skis and she was smooth from top to bottom to take away the win.
Gut finished 4th and Mikaela Shiffrin made her first ever Downhill start and finished 18th.
The course is usually a relativley easy one, but during the race the racers had to deal with flat light conditions, making it hard to see and at 70mph on skis that gets a little dangerous. 5 did not finish. 3 racers had near crashes at the “coaches jump” while Magrot Bailet and Joana Haelen crashed out. Haelen suffered a particualarly gruesome looking crash when she lost her ski after she landed and then went into the netting at an almost 90º angle. She was able to walk away from the crash though and will be back later this year.
With Gut failing to capitalize on Vonn’s absence, Shiffrin holds onto the overall lead, while Gut is all the way back in 6th place. Shiffrin has more than double Gut’s points (338-150.)