Road To The Olympic Games


Former teen prodigy Lara Gut-Behrami ends 2-year drought in dowhhill

In ski-crazy Switzerland, Lara Gut-Behrami's first World Cup victory in more than two years was quickly labeled "a resurrection" by broadcasters.

Swiss skier wins World Cup event on home soil

Swiss skier Lara Gut-Behrami celebrates winning the women's World Cup downhill race in Crans Montana, Switzerland, on Friday. (Gabriele Facciotti/The Associated Press)

In ski-crazy Switzerland, Lara Gut-Behrami's first World Cup victory in more than two years was quickly labeled "a resurrection" by broadcasters.

The former teenage prodigy, an overall World Cup champion in 2016, led a 1-2 Swiss finish in a downhill race Friday on the Mont Lachaux course with a time of one minute 27.11 seconds, beating discipline leader Corinne Suter by 0.80 seconds. Stephanie Venier of Austria was third, 0.92 behind.

It was the biggest winning margin in a women's downhill this season.

"Finally, I was able to ski the way I wanted," Gut-Behrami said. "I wasn't thinking. When I'm thinking I know that I'm slower, and this has been happening almost the entire season."

Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., was 23rd and Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., was 25th.

An elite speed racer with an Olympic medal and seven career World Cup wins in the marquee discipline, Gut-Behrami had a best result of 10th place in the six previous downhills.

While Gut-Behrami's form had slipped, Suter has built on her world championship silver medal from last year to be the top-ranked Swiss downhiller. Suter can clinch the season-long discipline title on Saturday, taking advantage of closest challenger Mikaela Shiffrin's extended break from racing after the death of her father.

"I don't watch these standings," said Suter, whose nearest rival is now Ester Ledecka, the 2018 Olympic gold medallist in skiing and snowboarding who finished 11th on Friday.

Closing in on Shiffrin

Shiffrin still leads the overall standings but two racers moved closer to the three-time defending champion. Petra Vlhova was fourth on Friday, 1.08 behind, to score an unexpected 50 World Cup points for a career-best result in downhill. The Slovakian slalom specialist only ever started one World Cup downhill until last month.

Federica Brignone tied for seventh to earn 36 points and cut Shiffrin's lead to only 77. The Italian racer is favoured to score 100 points in Sunday's combined event, a race she won in the past three seasons at Crans-Montana.

Shiffrin's era of World Cup domination began after the then-Lara Gut won the overall title four years ago.

Friday's win was the 25th of Gut-Behrami's World Cup career and the first since she married Switzerland international soccer player Valon Behrami.

Suter looked to be the likely winner until Gut-Behrami, starting 18th, began a consistently fast run on the 2.45-kilometre course. Gut-Behrami had a half-second lead midway down and clocked the second-fastest speed check at 105 kph. 

The sun-bathed, south-facing slope hosted an extra downhill this weekend to replace the Feb. 1 race cancelled by bad weather on the 2014 Olympic course in Russia.

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