Gut sets the pace in Crans-Montana downhill training
Crans-Montana, Switzerland – The Audi FIS Ski World Cup stopped in the Western part of the Swiss Alps for an intense week of speed and tech with two downhill training runs in preparation for Saturday's 7th downhill of the season, an alpine combined race on Sunday and a slalom on Monday.
It snowed 50 to 60 cm on Wednesday, one day prior to the first downhill training run and the course crew put enormous efforts to prepare the slope the best way possible. The top section remained relatively soft though and needed more work, reason why the jury decided to lower the start to the super-G position while inspecting the hill on Thursday morning. However, as a couple of forerunners crashed after the first jump, the course set had to be slightly readjusted and the start was brought further down to a provisional position to limit the speed in the jump section. The long interruption delayed the start of the first training by about 1.5 hours.
Switzerland's Lara Gut demonstrated she was already comfortable on the challenging “Mont Lachaux” course and posted the fastest time in 1:10.80, while Slovenia's Ilka Stuhec and Italy's Sofia Goggia took 2nd and 3rd, respectively 0.33 and 0.34 seconds off the pace.
“Today was more like free skiing,” commented Gut. “We are normally more used to ski fast and to have harder snow conditions. But I think it's better to have done a training run than nothing. Hopefully for the races it's going be harder and faster.”
American Lindsey Vonn skied for the first time on this slope as she didn't race two years ago in 2014 when she was recovering from injury. The 31-year-old didn't take too much risk and finished 16th, 0.97 seconds out.
“Today was my first run on this new track,” Vonn said. “The other girls were racing here two years ago but I was injured. I definitely didn't execute the line that well in some places and I have room for improvement. But it's fun. I just wish the snow was a little bit harder but I think it's actually only going to get softer by the weekend.”
Lindsey Vonn has won five of the six downhill races this season and six of the last seven going back to last season. In this run, Vonn only missed out on the victory in Val d'Isère on 19 December 2015 (DNF), when Lara Gut triumphed. Vonn could equal her career-best 2009/10 season in downhill when she won six.
A final training run is scheduled for Friday at 10:00 CET.
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