Swiss skier Suter wins last women's downhill before Olympics
Canada's Marie-Michèle Gagnon finishes 9th while Roni Remme didn't finish race
In the absence of Sofia Goggia, world champion Corinne Suter won the last downhill before the Beijing Olympics.
Suter had a dominate performance Saturday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, to finish 0.51 seconds faster than Swiss teammate Jasmine Flury in one minute 40.74 seconds for her first World Cup victory since Dec. 18, 2020. Cornelia Huetter of Austria was third, 0.78 behind in 1:41.52.
"Today was a really good run for me. I tried to ski more straight than in training. I skied with my whole heart and I think this is the reason why I was so fast," Suter said.
Canada's Marie-Michèle Gagnon stopped the clock in 1:41.79, 1.05 seconds behind Suter. Gagnon's teammate, Roni Remme, missed a gate halfway down the famed Kandahar course and was one of three skiers to not finish the event.
Goggia would have been the overwhelming favourite to defend her Olympic downhill title but she was injured during a World Cup super-G in Cortina d'Ampezzo last week. The 29-year-old Italian sprained her left knee, partially tore a cruciate ligament and has a "minor fracture" of the fibula, along with some tendon damage.
WATCH | Goggia does splits, tumbles down course:
Goggia has started physical rehab with the aim of returning in time for the Olympic downhill at the Beijing Games on Feb. 15. She will likely miss the giant slalom on Feb. 7 and the super-G on Feb. 11.
With the Winter Olympics around the corner, several top contenders skipped the races in Garmisch, including overall rivals Mikaela Shiffrin and Petra Vlhova, and Lara Gut-Behrami — who had won the downhill in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee. Goggia won the other four downhills this season.
Gagnon, wearing bib No. 1, took advantage of a clean track to ski a smooth and solid run from top to bottom. Maintaining her speed throughout the course, she achieved her best split at the second-to-last interval with the sixth fastest time of the day.
"I used to get stressed about having bib number one, especially in Super G, but now I'm more comfortable with these kinds of these kinds of situations in downhill where we have a few training runs," Gagnon, who sits 14th in the World Cup downhill standings, told Alpine Canada.
WATCH | Gagnon earns top-10 finish in final pre-Olympic downhill race:
"What I'm most satisfied about today is the good feeling I had on my skis. After Cortina and the first training run here, the coaches and I decided to look at my boots. With the technician, we made significant changes to my fitting and came up with much more aggressive angles. My feeling on my skis is already much better and I feel like I can attack."
9th in slalom at 2014 Olympics
Two weeks ago, the Canadian recorded a career-best fifth in Zauchensee, Austria.
Gagnon, who spent most of her career as a technical skier, is preparing for her first Olympic downhill competition. She represented Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games, with a top placing of ninth in slalom eight years ago in Sochi, Russia.
"I'm in the top-20 since the middle of last season in downhill," she said, "so I feel like I belong in that group and I'm looking forward to giving it my all at Beijing."
Out of the top 10 skiers in the overall standings, only Federica Brignone and Elena Curtoni raced. They finished 18th and 16th, respectively.
It was only Flury's second time on the podium, having won a super-G in St. Moritz in 2017.
"[It means] a lot. Also to share it with Corinne, she's a very good friend of mine and we spoke a lot about how it would be really nice to share one day a podium together — unbelievable," Flury said.
Suter moved into second spot in the downhill standings although she is still 69 points behind Goggia.
There is a super-G scheduled for Sunday before a pause for the Olympics.
"I'm very excited for tomorrow's race," said Gagnon, who was third in last year's super-G at Garmisch for her lone podium finish in the discipline. "I have a great feeling on my skis now and that gives me the confidence to ski at my best."
WATCH | Suter earns 1st World Cup win in 14 months:
With files from CBC Sports