Mikaela Shiffrin places 4th in downhill; World Cup record chase goes on
Canada's Marie-Michele Gagnon suffers fall at Cortina d'Ampezzo event
The record chase can wait. Mikaela Shiffrin appeared pleased, though, that for most of the way down the mountain she was faster than Sofia Goggia in a discipline that is far from being her best event.
Shiffrin finished fourth, half a second behind Goggia, the winner, in a downhill race Friday on the course that will be used for skiing at the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.
The result means that Shiffrin's pursuit of a record-breaking 83rd World Cup victory will go on for at least another day — leaving her tied with former American teammate Lindsey Vonn for the women's mark with 82 wins each.
"I don't really believe that I would get 83 in downhill," Shiffrin said. "But it's certainly hard to come down in fourth so close and not think, 'Oh, maybe I could get on the podium tomorrow. The trick for me is to put those thoughts out of my mind."
Only three of Shiffrin's 82 wins have come in downhill, an event she races only sparingly. She prefers to concentrate on her favoured disciplines of slalom (51 wins) and giant slalom (17 wins).
Goggia, who won gold and silver in downhill at the last two Olympics, respectively, has now won four of the five downhills this season. She finished 0.13 seconds ahead of two-time world champion Ilka Stuhec, and 0.36 ahead of Kira Weidle of Germany.
Shiffrin was faster than Goggia through the first three checkpoints but finished 0.50 behind.
WATCH | Shiffrin competes in women's downhill race in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy:
Shiffrin had some trouble landing a jump toward the end of her run, standing up to regain her balance. But overall she seemed satisfied with her performance, smiling and pumping her fist in the finish area.
"I froze and I got more air in the section that you don't really want to get off the ground," Shiffrin said. "That was a little bit harsh right on the last turn where you can build speed. So I could maybe be a bit smoother there. ... I'll try to make that adjustment."
It also appeared that a clip on Shiffrin's right boot came undone during her run, which might have reduced the control of her skis.
Shiffrin is also approaching Ingemar Stenmark's overall mark — between men and women — of 86 victories. Stenmark competed in the 1970s and 80s.
As usual, Goggia's season has been make-or-break. She broke two fingers in her left hand during a downhill in St. Moritz, Switzerland, last month, then returned after a quick surgery to win another downhill a day later.
Then she crashed nastily in a super-G last weekend in St. Anton, Austria, and sat out another super-G a day later as a precautionary measure, despite medical tests revealing no damage to her right knee.
When she reached the finish, Goggia seemed to know she had done something special, nodding her head a couple of times as if to say "yes, yes" — even though as the seventh starter, there were still several top favourites still to come down.
"It's special to win our home race," Goggia said. "My performance was really solid but still I have something to look at today at the video analysis, so I'll be really focused for tomorrow."
Falls end the days of Suter, Gagnon
One of the other favourites, reigning Olympic champion Corinne Suter, was the victim of an ugly fall toward the end of her run. The Swiss skier fell hard on her left side after losing control during a jump but came to a stop before hitting the safety nets. After being checked out briefly, Suter got up and made it down to the finish on her own.
Marie-Michele Gagnon of Canada fell after doing the splits at high speed then slid down the mountain and got bumped up into the air, prompting the safety air bag inside her suit to inflate and soften the blow when she landed. She, too, got right back up.
With the 16th downhill win of her career, Goggia tied Katja Seizinger in fifth place on the women's list for the discipline, which Vonn leads with 43 victories.
Weidle took silver on the same course during the 2021 world championships.