Ilka Stuhec con­tin­ues great form with WCup down­hill win

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

VAL D’ISERE: Ilka Stuhec con­tin­ued her out­stand­ing form by win­ning a World Cup down­hill race yes­ter­day for her fourth vic­tory so far in a re­mark­able sea­son.

The 26-year-old Slove­nian fin­ished .28 sec­onds ahead of Aus­trian Cor­nelia Huet­ter and .32 clear of Ital­ian Sof­fia Gog­gia - who is also en­joy­ing a break­through sea­son.

Stuhec had never fin­ished higher than fourth in a race prior to this year, but this was her third suc­cess in down­hill and her sec­ond straight win af­ter clinch­ing Fri­day’s Alpine com­bined.

“It was re­ally bumpy. I told my­self, ‘just push, push, push,’” Stuhec said. “I tried to keep the (racing) line but I was re­ally tired. I did enough.”

Gog­gia also had a ca­reer best of fourth be­fore this sea­son be­gan, and now has six podi­ums in eight races dur­ing this cam­paign. She was also third in Fri­day’s race and strength­ened her grip on sec­ond in the over­all stand­ings be­hind Amer­i­can slalom spe­cial­ist Mikaela Shiffrin.

“Every­one asks me about the over­all, but ac­tu­ally it’s not my goal,” the 24-yearold Gog­gia said. “Maybe when I was a child and I was dream­ing about hav­ing this crys­tal globe in my hands.”

Still, Gog­gia is con­fi­dent that she can turn her podium fin­ishes into wins.

“I still haven’t found my limit yet on the down­hill, I think I have some­thing more to give,” she said. “I’m happy with the fi­nal re­sult but not so sat­is­fied with my ski­ing. I was pretty slow on the up­per part.”

Three Ital­ians, in­clud­ing two sis­ters, com­pleted the top six: Na­dia Fan­chini was fourth ahead of Jo­hanna Sch­narf and Elena Fan­chini. But the day be­longed to Stuhec. She was ahead of Huet­ter on all the time splits as she pow­ered down the Oreiller-Killy course in bright morn­ing sun­shine. Only .07 ahead on the fourth split, Stuhec then ac­cel­er­ated away on the bot­tom sec­tion to beat Huet­ter, who now has 10 ca­reer podi­ums.

Stuhec knew she was quick, but even the re­sult sur­prised her as she put her hands over her face, then sank onto her back, shak­ing her head in dis­be­lief.

“It was a sur­prise for me. Com­ing down and see­ing the No. 1 (on the screen) I just didn’t get it at first,” Stuhec said. “I thought I’d made too many mis­takes.”

Her two other wins in down­hill were both in Lake Louise ear­lier this month. It has been a re­mark­able turn­around. Prior to this year, Stuhec had fin­ished only twice in the top five, with fourth in su­per-G three years ago.

Mean­while, de­fend­ing World Cup over­all cham­pion Lara Gut of Switzer­land failed to fin­ish for the sec­ond straight race, ski­ing off course af­ter los­ing bal­ance on the top sec­tion. She was .03 sec­onds faster than Huet­ter at the first split but then lost time to drift .35 be­hind on the next.

Then, just like dur­ing the slalom run in Fri­day’s Alpine com­bined race, Gut went out. “There are days when you feel well and you ski well, and there are some when you just can­not bring it all to­gether,” said Gut, who ex­plained that a bump on the course led to her mishap. “That’s how it goes.” Gut came here with a great chance of over­tak­ing Shiffrin. But she re­mains 105 points be­hind and needs to pick up some points in Sun­day’s su­per-G. “I shouldn’t start to have doubts,” said Gut, who was won a gi­ant slalom and a su­per-G race this sea­son. “To­mor­row is another day and I’m go­ing to go for it.”

But she faces a strong chal­lenge. When Gut won the su­per-G in Lake Louise ear­lier this month, Gog­gia was third and Stuhec was fifth.

VAL D’ISERE: First placed Slove­nia’s Ilka Stuhec cel­e­brates at the end of an alpine ski, women’s World Cup down­hill, in Val D’Isere, France, yes­ter­day.

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