Lara Gut wins downhill to reclaim World Cup lead as Lindsey Vonn falls
Canadian Larisa Yurkiw 9th
Swiss racer Lara Gut won a downhill by a large margin Friday and reclaimed the overall World Cup lead from Lindsey Vonn, who lost a ski, fell and did not finish.
Gut finished 1.02 seconds ahead of Cornelia Huetter of Austria, with Nadia Fanchini of Italy third, 1.03 back, as the Franco Berthod course in the shadows of Mont Blanc made its debut on the circuit.
Canadian Larisa Yurkiw finished ninth, 2.01 back.
Vonn was the last of the favourites to start and was ahead of Gut at the first checkpoint but then her right ski detached on a tricky turn and she slid down the course on her hip.
"I was getting a little bit bounced by the ice there and I was a little bit inside of my body position and my ski just came off," said Vonn, showing off her bent ski in the finish area. "I'm definitely disappointed. I thought I was skiing pretty well. ... That's pretty much the one thing besides the weather you can't control. I did my job and hopefully tomorrow my skis will also do their job."
The American said she didn't have any serious injuries.
"I'll probably be pretty bruised," Vonn said. "I slid on my hip for quite a ways."
Heinz Haemmerle, Vonn's ski technician at Head, defended his equipment preparation.
"It was so bumpy and then the binding came off. She was on the inside ski and then the outside ski was (wobbling) and hit a bump," Haemmerle told The Associated Press. "It can happen."
Haemmerle called Vonn's reaction "normal" in the heat of the moment.
"She understands. She's still upset," he said. "It shouldn't happen."
Haemmerle explained that he already tightens Vonn's bindings to level 18 and fears turning them up to a maximum of 20 — what the men use — because then her skis might not pop off in a fall.
"I can't turn it up anymore," the ski technician said. "That would be too dangerous."
Gut moved 13 points ahead of Vonn in the overall standings.
"A lot can change in one day," Gut said. "I'll try to repeat it tomorrow."
Vonn retains wide downhill standings leads
Vonn still holds a big lead in the downhill discipline standings and can clinch her eighth season-long crystal globe title in another downhill Saturday.
It was the 18th win of Gut's career and her sixth this season, which is developing into the best of her career.
More technical than most women's downhills, the Berthod piste won praise from Gut.
"It's a challenge but I prefer a challenge (to) a highway so that's good," said Gut, who used a different tactic on the turn where Vonn went out from most other skiers — checking her skis sideways in a move normally reserved for giant slalom.
"You really have to stay on the ski. It helps if you ski aggressive — it's easier to make the turns," Gut said. "But it's a fine line between winning and being out."
Vonn has won five of the seven downhills this season, with Gut taking the other two.
It was Huetter's seventh podium of the season, although the rising 23-year-old has yet to win.
For Fanchini, it was the first podium result of the season and 11th of her career. The Italian has also won two medals in downhill at world championships — silver in 2013 and bronze in 2009.
At the finish, Fanchini shared a long embrace with her twin sister Elena, who finished 18th.
Fabienne Suter of Switzerland finished fourth and Laurenne Ross of the United States was fifth.
Friday's race was originally scheduled for Crans-Montana last weekend but was moved due to excessive snowfall in the Swiss resort.
"I'm definitely going to be fired up tomorrow, that's for sure," Vonn said. "I know what to do on this course. ... Hopefully I'll execute a little better and hopefully my skis will stay on."
The weekend concludes with a super-G on Sunday.