Sofia Goggia takes career first win at Jeongseon downhill

Italy's Sofia Goggia competes to win the women's downhill race at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Jeongseon, some 150km east of Seoul, that is also part of a test event for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics on March 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI

JEONGSEON, KOREA – After securing nine World Cup podium results and a World Championships bronze medal this winter, Italian Sofia Goggia secured her career first victory at Jeongseon, South Korea, at the test event downhill for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.

The race began after a short delay due to the first forerunner crashing, but then action was underway as Lindsey Vonn pushed out of the gate with bib 1. The American had some early bobbles in the upper terrain, but she skied a fast enough run to hold the early lead. Only Goggia was able to best her by a narrow 0.07 seconds. Ilka Stuhec ultimately rounded out the podium in third, 0.23 seconds off the winning pace.

“It was not [hard to win] because I just skied for myself today. I just tried to enjoy the slope, to push as hard as I could where I could, and to use a little bit more tactics when required because in the training runs, I missed a gate. So I really tried to focus on myself and this paid off,” said Goggia. “It feels good, but I still have to realize it. I think that when I’m going on the podium, there at the prize giving ceremony, I’m going to realize it. But still not now.”

“I thought [my run] was good. Definitely made some mistakes. The top, just kind of got rocked by the bumps and then on the bottom, just got a little bit low in my line and lost some speed. The girls made up a couple tenths on me on the very bottom, so it’s nice to know that my skiing is getting better and I finally feel like I’m on an upward pace. It’s been a struggle this year. But before Whistler [Olympics], in the test events, I was second as well, so I think it’s a good position to be in and it’s a great track, so I’m excited,” said Vonn. “Right away, even after the first inspection, I knew that it was going to be a good track for me, and I think there’s also something to be said for not winning the test events. Sometimes that can be quite a bit of extra pressure added on unnecessarily. I think I have enough of that, so I don’t really need any more. I know where I can make up the time, and I think it definitely bodes well for next year.”

With Goggia’s victory, Stuhec was blocked from claiming the downhill title prior to the final race of the season. She was three points shy of securing the small globe without carrying the fight on to Aspen.

“A few turns were not that clean, I guess, because I knew I had to keep the higher line than I had in trainings. So I guess I lost some speed there, which was I lost some time again. But it’s a lesson learned, and I’ll keep that in mind when we get back here,” said Stuhec. “I’m still really happy for Sofia. She really has a great season as well, and she’s skiing really good. But we have one more race. A lot is still open, but it’s skiing.”

Jasmine Flury and Tamara Tippler, starting bibs 21 and 22, experienced an extremely rare technology glitch that was resolved according to the international ski competition rules. Tippler finished fifth and Flury seventh in the race. A long hold ensued while the problem was identified, and then the race was able to resume.

The ladies will race a super-G at Jeongseon on Sunday.

Repeat podium on second day in Jeongseon

Sofia Goggia opened the floodgates with her inaugural World Cup victory on Saturday and proved it was no fluke with a follow-up win the ladies’ super-G at Jeongseon, South Korea, on Sunday. For the second day in a row, she bested Lindsey Vonn by mere hundredths, and Ilka Stuhec finished third on a challenging set with big turns and high speeds.

“It feels great because also I think yesterday in the downhill, [Vonn] is the major speed queen. [Stuhec] is the world champ and the queen of the future, so the three most fast,” said Goggia of her fellow podium mates. “It feels amazing because super-G this year was pretty difficult to me. I never found the right balance between pushing and to use the tactics. And today, I really tried to ski. There were some tricky points. I came by and it was really OK. I really tried to push.”

With her third-place finish, Stuhec took over the lead of the super-G standings and will head to Aspen with a 15-point advantage over Tina Weirather.

“I had a funny feeling from the start house and later on it got a bit better. Yeah, it was a fun course actually because you had to do a lot. It didn’t do anything itself, so it was nice. I like it,” said Stuhec. “The only nerves getting to Aspen I have is sixteen hours time difference that we have from here to there. So that’s the only thing. Otherwise, I’ll go like always, race for race, and do my best.”

Vonn once again found herself oh-so-shy of the win, this time finishing 0.04 seconds off Goggia’s pace. She pointed to the Italian in the leader box after crossing the finish line and shook her head.

“It’s definitely the best super-G performance I’ve had all season by a long shot, so it’s nice to see that I still have the speed and it’s coming back around,” said Vonn. “Definitely frustrated with the amount of time that I’m getting second place by. But you know, if I’ve learned one thing in ski racing, it’s that those hundredths always come back and I’m hoping that they come back next year for the Olympics. So I’ll bide my time. I’ll be patient, and everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.”

The ladies’ tour now heads to Squaw Valley, USA, to contest giant slalom and slalom races on Friday and Saturday this week.