Gut wins La Thuile downhill, regains Overall World Cup lead
La Thuile, Italy – Despite difficulties on the top of the course, Lara Gut raced to her second downhill win of the season on Friday. The Swiss skier bested Austria's Cornelia Hüter by a commanding 1.02 seconds after finishing the technical “Franco Berthod” course in 1:35.57, under sunny skies. Home crowd favourite Nadia Fanchini was third, 1.03 seconds behind Gut.
Lara Gut admitted she had the flu over the last two training days but she was confident she would have enough energy for at least two minutes of effort to put down a strong run today. It was her sixth World Cup victory this campaign.
“It's a challenging course as we already said in the last couple of days, but I prefer challenges to highways,” Gut said after her win. “When you make a mistake on a straight course it's impossible to make up the time. Today my line wasn't ideal especially on top and I had to drift sometimes. I hope I can really arch my turns tomorrow. The more aggressive you are with the type of snow we have, the better it is.”
Fastest in the final training session, Cornelia Hütter is still chasing her first World Cup win but she proved she is comfortable on the new hill as she collected her seventh career podium result.
“It's definitely not easy here,” Hütter said. “You have to be on the limit and push. The transitions between the steep and flat sections are very tricky. I am super happy to finish second.”
After suffering many injuries in her career, Nadia Fanchini admitted she had been thinking of giving up racing downhill. But she knew she had a chance to do well in La Thuile.
“Technical courses for sure suit me more, that's the reason why I raced today,” Fanchini said. “There is a lot of emotions. I am so happy about this result.” It was her 11th podium in her career.
Downhill World Cup leader Lindsey Vonn was leading after the first interval when she initiated a right-footed turn entirely on her inside ski before attempting to pressure her right ski in the chattery fall line. Her binding released and she slid on her hip off course, but she was able to ski down to the finish area.
“I was a little bit inside with my body position and my ski just came off,” Vonn told reporters. “I am definitely disappointed. I thought I was skiing pretty well. It happened very quickly.”
“Besides the weather that is the one thing you cannot control,” Vonn continued. “I did my job and hopefully tomorrow my skis will also do their job.”
One of Vonn's skis appeared to be bent after the race and she said she didn't know if it happened before or during the crash.
“I am really confused about how this happened actually. So I have to watch the video again. Normally none of this should happen. But tomorrow is another chance to get revenge on this hill.”
Vonn still leads the downhill standings with 500 points and is now trailed by Hütter with 374. If the 31-year-old American is 100 points clear at the top of the table after Saturday's race, she will secure her eighth downhill crystal globe, as there will be only one downhill race remaining on the calendar.
With today's win, Lara Gut regains the overall lead13 points ahead of Vonn with 1073.
Saturday's downhill is scheduled to start at 10:45 CET.
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