KRONPLATZ – The technically demanding ERTA piste with a downward slope of 61 percent at its steepest point challenged the ladies in the Kronplatz giant slalom to ski a clean line.
Tessa Worley came down with the early lead in the first run and held it all the way until Federica Brignone, with bib 14, skied with energy from the crowd to cross the line 0.15 seconds ahead of the GS standings leader. Brignone’s teammate Marta Bassino sat a close third at 0.26 seconds off the fastest pace.
“My focus was to push to the end of the turns and just get back into really hard mostly on the last part, where it’s a little bit bumpy and there’s a fallaway. For sure I just wanted to make a nice, clean, and attacking run, but I’ll need to push harder in the second,” Worley said.
“Normally I’m stressed but today I was really stressed too but I tried just to do my skiing and to enjoy this beautiful slope,” reflected Brignone. “I felt bad – well good, actually – but not so fast. I thought I was there, but not in the front.”
Sunshine, an impressively large crowd for a Tuesday morning, and the unique slope made for a festive atmosphere in the first run. During the second run, the sun dipped below the surrounding mountains and cast a dark shadow on the lower third of the course.
Still, Brignone was able to bring home the surprise win, even to her, and further impressed the crowd by welcoming Bassino onto the podium in third. Brignone’s only other GS victory on the World Cup came in Soelden in 2015, another venue noted for its pitch.
“When it’s tough, I just try to do my skiing because I’m already preoccupied on how to do the slope, so then I like the ice and today was icy,” Brignone said. “So, I just tried my best really to make every turn after every turn. But in the second run, I felt awful and then, I don’t know if you saw me, but I crossed the finish line and said, ‘No, no. It’s never gonna work.’ And then I saw one, and it was amazing. It was incredible.”
Brignone was the first Italian woman to win a GS on home snow in a decade, as Karen Putzer was the last to do so in January 2007 in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Brignone even extended her lead in the second run and ultimately bested Worley by 0.55 seconds. Still, the discipline leader was happy to collect her sixth podium finish of the season.
“It’s another podium,” Worley noted. “It’s another second place, and Federica really skied so well this last part, and I had a tough time over there. But I mean I fight it until the end and it was totally worth it, so happy with second place.”
Bassino finished in third place for the second time this season and in her career, a previous podium coming back in October in Soelden.
“It’s amazing,” Bassino admitted. “It’s a dream in Italy with all these people.”