Gut-Behrami wins downhill after Olympic champ Goggia crashes

ALTENMARKT-ZAUCHENSEE (AP): Swiss skier Lara Gut-Behrami won the fourth women’s World Cup downhill of the season Saturday after Olympic champion Sofia Goggia had an awkward crash halfway down her run.

The Italian, who had won the previous three downhills, seemed unhurt and skied down the course shortly after the incident.

Gut-Behrami timed 1 minute, 45.78 seconds in perfect conditions on the three-kilometer Kälberloch course to beat Kira Weidle of Germany by one-tenth of a second. Ramona Siebenhofer of Austria was 0.44 behind in third.

It was Gut-Behrami’s second win of the season but first since missing nearly four weeks of racing following a coronavirus infection.

“My last two months were everything but good,” the Swiss skier told Austrian TV.

“I am happy that I’m getting back into the rhythm. It’s cool that I could ski on a high level for three days in a row,” added Gut-Behrami, who had posted the third-fastest time in both trainings.

Downhill world champion Corinne Suter trailed her Swiss teammate by 0.99 in seventh and defending overall champion Petra Vlhova finished 2.27 behind outside the top 20 in the Slovakian’s first start in a speed race this season.

Breezy Johnson, who was runner-up to Goggia in all three events so far this season, sat out the race after hurting her knee in a training crash. Her American teammate, overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin, also skipped the event as she opted to train for upcoming races.

In a trademark gutsy run, Goggia led at the first two splits before she lost control over her left ski in the compression of a dark section of the course. Her right ski came off when she lost balance and the protective airbag under her race suit inflated before she hit the ground.

The Italian slid into the safety netting with the left ski still attached to her boot but seemed to avoid injuries. She sat on the course for a few seconds before giving a thumbs-up.

Goggia had won the last seven downhills she competed it and posted the fastest time in training on Friday.

Her DNF opened the way for Gut-Behrami, who had won the two downhills last season which the Italian missed with a knee injury.

Gut-Behrami had a clean run on the challenging course, which opens with a 72-percent gradient, the steepest start section on the women’s circuit, where racers accelerate to up to 120 kph (74.5 mph) within five seconds.

Gut-Behrami was 0.34 ahead of then-leader Weidle but lost nearly a quarter of a second when she came out of her tuck at the final jump before the finish.

The Swiss former overall champion earned her 34th career win and 12th in a downhill, putting her level with Italy’s Isolde Kostner in eighth place on the all-time female winners’ list of the sport’s fastest discipline.