Lindsey Vonn already had the Audi FIS World Cup ladies’ downhill globe wrapped up entering today’s final race in St. Moritz (SUI), but it didn’t mean that the 24 competing women weren’t motivated to grab the last possible World Cup points of the season.
Austrian Mirjam Puchner made the most of the opportunity and earned not only her first career World Cup victory, but her first-ever World Cup podium, topping Switzerland’s Fabienne Suter by 0.13 seconds. Finishing in third place was Italian Elena Curtoni who was just 0.17 seconds behind in the close race.
It was Suter’s fifth time finishing in second place this season.
“It’s a good way to end the season,” said Suter. “The podium today was good finish for me and now I can look ahead with full motivation for next season.”
Puchner has been strong on the St. Moritz course all week, including having the fastest complete training run yesterday. But nevertheless her triumph in today’s downhill came as a surprise. Her previous best downhill finish was this season in Val d’Isère where she earned eighth place and she entered today’s race ranked 18th in the downhill standings.
“I’m speechless, my goal today was to finish in the top ten, so I am overwhelmed,” said Puchner. “I had it a little easier since I started earlier. The light definitely got harder as the race went on. It was a great atmosphere today in St. Moritz, I am really looking forward to the World Championships next year.”
Suter was the only one of the top-ten ranked downhill skiers to make it onto the podium as the course slowed significantly as the race wore on, leaving the favourites well off the winning pace. Suter was also one of the few racers with a late bib number to find success, much to the joy of the Swiss fans, who were already in a festive mood after Beat Feuz’s downhill triumph an hour earlier.
Much like the men’s downhill, the conditions were difficult today as a steady light snow fell throughout the race. It is forecast to be the only gray day in St. Moritz as the signature sunshine of the region is expected to return and stay for the rest of the Finals week.
Despite being sidelined with an injury, Vonn still was on hand to accept her downhill globe. She became the first skier to earn eight downhill crystal globes.
“It’s a little bittersweet for me today,” said Vonn. “Naturally I’m really happy to win the globe, but to watch as a spectator and not race is really hard.”
Tomorrow, the tight race for the super-G globe will be decided as Lara Gut will look to chase Vonn down in the standings to take the discipline globe. Gut, who has already earned the Overall Season title, sits 19 points back in the super-G standings.