Gut-Behrami kicks off ski world champs with super-G victory, Shiffrin third

·3-min read
Swiss Lara Gut won gold in the Women's Super G at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo

Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami landed the first gold of the world ski championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, storming to an emphatic win in the women's super-G on Thursday, while Mikaela Shiffrin claimed bronze.

Gut-Behrami, who previously won world silver (2013) and bronze (2017) in the super-G, laid down a near-perfect run to clock 1min 25.51sec on the 2.15km-long Olympic delle Tofane course.

"It was the first time that I knew that my life wouldn't change if I would win or not," said the Swiss racer.

"I didn't ski to win the gold medal. I just skied to show what I can and that was a big difference if I compare this year and the previous editions."

Corinne Suter made it a Swiss 1-2, finishing 0.34sec off the leading pace, while defending world champion Shiffrin paid the price for a mistake heading into the final third of the unforgiving course.

Shiffrin skidded wide on one turn and saw her intermediate leads disappear, eventually finishing third, at 0.47sec, for her eighth world championship medal to draw level with now-retired former teammate Lindsey Vonn.

Reigning Olympic champion Ester Ledecka, the Czech code-hopper from parallel snowboarding, came in fourth at 0.54sec in front of empty stands, fans banned from attending the world champs because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In cold conditions, the picturesque course was bathed in brilliant sunshine after heavy snow and fog had caused the rescheduling of events earlier in the week.

Starting with bib number seven, three behind Shiffrin and two behind Suter, Gut-Behrami attacked from the start hut.

With her distinctive low crouch, the 29-year-old kept her form to streak across the finish line for her first world gold, becoming the first Swiss racer to claim world super-G gold since Maria Walliser won the title in 1987.

She also equalled Italian Isolde Kostner and the American duo of Vonn and Julia Mancuso on a record three world championship medals in the discipline.

"In the past, I always wanted to win gold and it never happened," Gut-Behrami said.

"Today, sure, I was nervous and I wanted to ski the way I want and that sometimes produces too much pressure."

- No destiny calling -

Shiffrin, who had just four days of super-G training before the race, said she was "super-pleased" with her result.

"I had such a good feeling skiing the hills. I loved it, it was so much fun!" said the 25-year-old, who spent 300 days away from racing last year following the sudden death of her father Jeff.

"The things I've experienced this year and this day are separate," she insisted.

"There've been some crappy things happening in the year, but we came out today, it was sunny, I was so looking forward to racing on this track in super-G.

"As much as I'd like to connect it and say it was somehow fate I'd come to this super-G and all these things have come together like some destiny thing, it's not."

It was, however, fate that Gut-Behrami won, Shiffrin said.

"Everybody thought Lara would win gold today," the American said. "The gold medal went to who it was supposed to go to."

Suter, who came into her own on the bottom third of the race, added that Gut-Behrami was a deserved winner.

"We train together and we know each other off the slope. When you train together, we can push each other to the limit," said Suter, who won downhill silver and super-G bronze in Are two years ago.

Shiffrin added that she had "missed the vibe from the crowds".

"It's kind of funny because the last Olympics I did, there weren't a lot of crowds in South Korea because it was so cold," the two-time Olympic gold medallist said.

"And then in Sochi no one could get there, so it kind of felt like that!"