Goggia grabs downhill gold
Sofia Goggia of Italy confirmed her position as the current best downhiller in the world by claiming Olympic gold at PyeongChang 2018. Ragnhild Mowinckel on Norway was the surprise silver medallist, just 0.09 seconds off Goggia's pace. Lindsey Vonn of the United States completed the podium with bronze.
Goggia, 25, had already won two World Cup downhills and won last year’s test event on the Olympic course at Jeongseon Alpine Centre. But these Games marked her Olympic debut. She became the first Italian woman to win a downhill Olympic gold medal.
Goggia was slightly off the pace on the traverse and skied off of Dragon’s Claw in the backset. But she found nearly half a second between intermediates three and four, building her best speed into Magic Valley. From Dragon’s Back onwards, her pace was impressive, and she easily outpaced Tina Weirather (LIE), then in top spot, with Vonn still to come.
Mowinckel, starting 19th, was not expected to trouble the leaders. She fought the whole way down with smooth, clean runs through the Dragon’s Back and Magic Valley. The 25-year-old had never finished higher than sixth on the World Cup downhill tour.
She screamed in delight at her spectacular run, as she became the first Norwegian woman to win an Olympic downhill medal. Weirather, her good friend who she bumped off the podium, was the first to congratulate her.
Vonn added to the sense that the ladies' downhill would be a head-to-head battle with Goggia by talking this week about how she watches film of Goggia’s line in training and makes appropriate adjustments. But Vonn’s homework didn’t quite pay off, with Goggia finishing a comfortable 0.47 seconds ahead of Vonn. Vonn’s bronze in PyeongChang follows her gold and bronze medals at Vancouver 2010, and she became the oldest female Olympic medallist with her efforts.
A mistake kept Vonn off the podium in the super-G on 17 February, and the most successful female World Cup alpine skier of all time bowed her head as Mowinckel nudged her down to third place. Vonn, who is 33, has said she will almost certainly retire before the next Games, and was true to her promise on social media the day before the downhill event: “There’s only one thing I can guarantee – I will give everything I have.”
The ladies will race alpine combined at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on Thursday.
Sofia GOGGIA (ITA)
On winning the gold:
"I still haven’t quite realised yet. I think I’ll realise when I’m on the podium. I’m very proud. I feel so focused on the day that I haven’t realised yet what I’ve done. It’s about me and my skiing and not the others.”
On her emotions:
"I still don’t realise I'm first. I was really focused, I moved like a samurai. Usually, I'm really chaotic but I wanted to take in every little detail, every particular in the morning. I believed in myself - and then what counts, counts."
On what it means to be Olympic champion:
“It means you have a gold medal that everyone was expecting. It means that you win the best race you can ever get and at the end, whether I have a medal or not, it’s always me. It’s like a goal achieved, I've made the finish line but it changes nothing, it’s always me."
On her risk-free run:
“I didn’t take any risks. I just used my brain because I have one sometimes and I use it. I just tried to focus on two points of the slope and I skied really focused.”
On her friendship and rivalry with bronze medallist Lindsey VONN (USA):
"Lindsey is a great skier, the greatest skier, a great person and a great woman. Everyone is like bowing to Lindsey. It’s always an honour to take part in the same race as her. It’s fun too. Afterwards, we’re friends, we’ll got for a coffee together, talk about our work. It’s good for our sport."
Ragnhild MOWINCKEL (NOR) - silver
On winning her second silver medal of PyeongChang 2018:
"Oh my God, I’m so surprised, but I'm super happy. I just tried to bring the best I could do and it was by far my best downhill race ever and to do it in the Olympics is amazing.
"Right now, I’m baffled and surprised and can’t really understand it, though I know I've done well. I really need some time to understand this, I’m so happy."
On her improvement this season:
"I know I've taken big steps in downhill all season and I've built up all the time, and then bringing the confidence from my giant slalom medal too. Just knowing that my skiing at the moment is pretty solid, I tried to bring that into today and just go for it. Up to now, I've only ever been sixth in a downhill so this is such a good result."
On surpassing her expectations:
"The giant slalom (in which she won silver) is kind of what I dreamed of but downhill is not. I felt like I still have such a long way to go in this event. So I'm so happy about this."
On not having any pressure on her:
"I knew I was not one of the favourites so it was good just to be the underdog and ski the best I could do. I couldn't do any better than this."
Lindsey VONN (USA) - bronze
On her race:
"I gave it all today, skied a great race. Sofia (GOGGIA, ITA, gold medallist) just skied better than I did.
“I thought I executed the line really well on the whole course, perhaps too well. I tried too hard to stay on the perfect line. But I've no regrets.”
On the emotions of what she believes is her final Olympic downhill:
“It was tough to contemplate this being my last Olympic downhill. I struggled to try to keep the emotions together, but I left it all on the mountain like I said I would. I skied really well, but I think Sofia is untouchable today."
On waiting to see if she had won the bronze medal as the event continued:
“I’m optimistic that I could get on the podium, but anything can happen as you could see from the super-G, but there's no snowboarders in the race this time.”
On her journey to another medal:
"If you think what’s happened over the last eight years and what I've been through to get here, I gave it all and to come away with a medal is a dream come true. You’ve got to put things into perspective. Of course, I’d have loved a gold medal but, honestly, this is amazing and I'm so proud."
On thinking of her late grandfather:
“It’s been really hard for me not to get emotional for so many reasons, especially because of my grandfather. I wanted to win so much because of him, but I still think I made him proud."
On her hard work:
“I gave it my best shot. I tried so hard, worked my butt off and I’m so proud to have competed with such amazing girls, my teammates. We help each other. Most of us have been injured pretty severely and I’m so proud and happy to have been training with them. It’s been fun."
On the prospect of not competing in another Olympic downhill:
“It’s sad. It’s my last downhill. I wish I could keep going, I’m having so much fun and I love what I do, but my body just can’t take another four years. But I’m proud to be competing for my country, giving it all and proud to come away with a medal.”