Olympic favourite Sofia Goggia rebounds from crash to win 4th downhill of season

A week after crashing at high speed in Austria, Italy's Sofia Goggia captured her fourth win in five World Cup downhills this season on Saturday despite a mishap-filled run in which she was all over the shortened Olympia delle Tofane course.

Italian all over course during windy, mishap-filled run in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Sofia Goggia picked up her fourth victory in five downhill races this season, overcoming a few mistakes to cross the finish line in one minute 6.98 seconds at home in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. (Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

If she can stay upright, stay within the gates, there's no beating Sofia Goggia in downhill these days. That's why she's an overwhelming favourite to repeat as Olympic champion at next month's Beijing Games.

A week after crashing at high speed in Austria, Goggia captured her fourth win in five World Cup downhills this season on Saturday despite a mishap-filled run in which the Italian was all over the shortened Olympia delle Tofane course.

Hit by a big gust of wind shortly into her run, Goggia was pushed way wide and had to check her skis to get back into the racing line. A bit further down, she again drifted off course and almost missed a gate. But Goggia regained her speed after each mishap and won in one minute 6.98 seconds, 20-100ths of a second ahead of Ramona Siebenhofer of Austria.

Goggia appeared upset with herself immediately after crossing the finish line, then was clearly surprised when she picked her head up and saw she was in the lead, raising her hands as if to say, "How did that happen?" Then she fell backward onto the snow in delight.

"I had so much wind that I got twisted around," Goggia said from Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. "It's incredible, with everything that I did today, to see the green light. It's a dream, especially here in Cortina. When I realized I was first my heart exploded."

WATCH | Goggia back atop World Cup podium after 'tough week':

Sofia Goggia stays on course, wins World Cup downhill event

5 months ago
Duration 7:01
Despite a few obstacles thrown her way, Italy's Sofia Goggia finished 1st in the women's downhill competition during the FIS Alpine World Cup in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

Goggia missed her home world championships in Cortina last season after breaking a bone in her right knee. Then at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee last Saturday, she was leading when she lost control in a dark section of the course and hit the safety nets. She avoided serious injury but was banged up to the point that by Monday she couldn't walk.

"I had a tough week," Goggia said. "I was doing physical therapy all day."

Ester Ledecka, the Czech athlete who won golds in both skiing and snowboarding at the 2018 Olympics, finished third, 0.26 behind Goggia.

Overall leader Shiffrin skips race

Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., who will compete at her third Olympics and first since 2014, was 28th in 1:08.65. Stefanie Fleckenstein, the only other Canadian in the race, was 39th of 49 finishers (1:09.03).

It was Goggia's sixth win overall this season, including two super-Gs, and she can add to her career total of 17 victories in another super-G on Sunday.

Strong winds on top forced organizers to lower the start, eliminating several characteristic sections of the Cortina course, such as the Tofane Schuss, a chute between two walls of rock.

WATCH | Replay of women's downhill from Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy:

FIS Alpine World Cup Cortina: Women's Downhill

5 months ago
Duration 2:07:16
Watch the women's downhill competition from the FIS Alpine World Cup in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

Overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin skipped the race, allowing Goggia to strengthen her third-place position in the standings.

Shiffrin holds a narrow 37-point lead over Petra Vlhova, who also didn't race, while Goggia now trails Shiffrin by 197 points.

Several top contenders struggled with the technical course.

Lara Gut-Behrami, the Swiss skier who won two gold medals at last season's worlds in Cortina plus last weekend's downhill when Goggia crashed, made several mistakes in her run and finished ninth.

Federica Brignone, like Gut-Behrami a former overall champion, had to place her skis into a snow-plow position to regain control over a jump midway down. She finished 19th.

The Olympics begin Feb. 4 and the women's downhill is scheduled for Feb. 15.

With files from CBC Sports

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