Tessa Worley takes tough GS in Kranjska Gora
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia – There was a whole lot of “going for it” on the notoriously steep and technical men’s giant slalom race course in Kranjska Gora, but it was Tessa Worley who went for it the fastest.
After finishing the first run in second place behind Elisabeth Goergl, the 22-year-old world champion bronze medalist from France crossed the finish line in the second run set by her coaches for the win on Saturday with a combined time of 2 minutes, 3.02 seconds.
“It wasn’t easy, but I like these conditions,” Worley said. “I’m very happy to be on top again.”
With the sun shining upon the ominous Podkoren course, Goergl was on her way to at least a podium finish, leading the first run and then at the top of the second but dropping a few hundredths back on the second split before catching an edge and crashing. Thus, Italian world champion silver medalist Federica Brignone landed her second straight GS podium, finishing second, 0.56 seconds behind Worley and World Cup GS champion and current leader Viktoria Rebensburg threw down a very fast second run to round out the podium, 0.89 seconds back.
All three podium finishers remarked that they prefer tough courses, but that charging was essential on the Kranjska course, especially in the second run, when the second half of the course had become extremely bumpy. Worley, who finished second to Rebensburg in the GS standings last year after her trio of victories, has been fighting hard in her choice discipline this season. She started with an impressive fourth place in Soelden after snagging a gate and losing her pole in the first run, then crashed out in Aspen, where she had won the previous year, but was back on the podium at the last GS stop in Lienz and is now back in her favorite position, saying that maintaining a fast rhythm was the secret to skiing to No. 1 on Saturday.
“It was a pretty short run, so you needed to be in the tempo from the start to the finish,” Worley said. “I managed to do this in the first run. The second was a bit more difficult … you needed to go for it a bit more. I think I managed to do this. It was a tough race but I had a lot of fun. The slope was new for me. It was difficult and there were bumps. You needed to work out of these to [not] lose speed.”
It was also the second straight GS podium for Brignone, who also took second place in Lienz.
“I’m really happy today,” Brignone said, adding that the course was not easy. “It’s really hard. The snow was icy, but I like these conditions. I like to ski here more than Maribor. When it’s hard and tough, it’s my course. It was really bumpy on the last pitch. I was pushing and pushing until the end.”
Rebensburg still leads the GS standings with 290 points (Anna Fenninger is next with 222 and then Lindsey Vonn with 217). She said she didn’t have a good feeling in the race, but was pleased that it still translated into a podium finish and also enjoyed racing on a new course, where the German team was training last week.
“The first run was not really good. I had a few problems,” Rebensburg said. “I tried to make it better the second run. It was better, definitely. There were a lot of bumps and rolls. The feeling is not the best, but in the end, I’m happy with my third place. This is a good slope. It’s good to get some other places, other slopes to know. We had tough training, too, so we knew what would come. But for GS skiers, it’s better to have more technical slopes.”
Lindsey Vonn followed up her fantastic speed weekend in Cortina with another solid race on Saturday, taking fourth, 0.92 off the winning time, the only other racer to finish within a second of Worley.
“I skied the top well. The bottom was bumpy and I lost some speed there,” said Vonn, who still leads the overall Cup standings with 934 points.
The noise from the packed stadium reached a deafening roar when local favorite Tina Maze was on course. The Slovenian World GS Champion ended up fifth after a strong second run, 1.20 seconds behind the winning time. Maria Hoefl-Riesch landed her best GS result so far this season in sixth, 1.25 seconds back, France’s Anemone Marmottan was seventh, 1.33 seconds back, Austrians Anna Fenninger and Kathrin Zettel were eighth and ninth, respectively, 1.35 and 1.63 seconds back and Poutiainen was 10th, 1.83 seconds back.
Other impressive performances of the day came from Italy’s Giulia Gianesini, who was 30th after the first run but skied a smoking second run to finish 13th. Also a ways back, Sweden’s Jessica Lindell-Vikarby skied the second fastest second run to finish 12th and her compatriot, Frida Hansdotter, started the day wearing bib No. 55 and was leading the whole way down the second run before making a big mistake and ending up 20th.
The women’s World Cup continues with slalom in Kranjska Gora on Sunday (World Snow Day!), with a first run scheduled for 9:15 a.m.
By Shauna Farnell