The best gate specialists of the “White Circus” enjoyed a great comeback in Sestriere in occasion of the thrilling 3rd giant slalom race of the season which took place in front of nearly twelve thousands enthusiastic spectators attending the competition that took place on the sun bathed Giovanni A. Agnelli course already used during the 1997 FIS World Championships and the 2006 Winter Olympics. In fact those numerous tourists as well as the countless ski-clubs and happy sports fans who gathered there since the early hours of the morning created an atmosphere reminding the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games.
Thanks to that impressive crowd, the nice sun and the excellent snow and course conditions, the spectacular leading athletes made the Ladies Ski World Cup return to Vialattea/Sestriere just a perfect day.
After an exciting first run, Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) was leading by mere 1/100 of a second over Tina Weirather (LIE), and by only 12/100 sec over three other great specialists: Lara Gut (SUI), Tessa Worley (FRA), Sofia Goggia (ITA). On these premises, the second run created even stronger emotions as all of them fought very hard for victory on this first women’s competition in Sestriere since 2008!
The Audi FIS Ski World Cup podium finally saw Tessa Worley on the higher step, confirming her last GS victory at Killington(USA) two weeks ago thanks to her nearly flawless second run. The French ace was, followed by Sofia Goggia (ITA) only 15/100 of a second behind her while the defending overall World Cup champion Lara Gut, came in 3rd with a delay of only 29/100 of a second.
For Italy’s Sofia Goggia, strongly supported by all the local fans and also by several members of her whole family standing near the finish line, it has been the fourth podium in her amazing season start.
A few mistakes during the second run relegated 2nd placed Tina Weirather (LIE) to 4th place,1/100 ahead of the local racer from “Piedmont” Marta Bassino (ITA), which generated great enthusiasm within the audience.
USA’S Mikaela Shiffrin, finally 6th in today’s race, kept the lead of the l Overall World Cup classification, with 398 points - she is now followed by Lara Gut, only 8 points behind, with the determined Sofia Goggia in 3rd position with 347 points. In the giant slalom standings Tessa Worley, the GS World Champion in 2013 at Schladming , reinforced her lead with 240 points, ahead Sofia Goggia 2nd with 185 points and Mikaela Shiffrin 3rd with 165 points.
Comments from the athletes:
Sofia Goggia: “It has been quite a long and tough race with each run approaching 1.10 minutes yet I didn’t really feel it and I’m happy I managed to recover from a few mistakes made in the upper parts with a stronger final part. I’m pretty satisfied with my physical form in fact and my skiing too since the season start. I am more than satisfied with my season start and the strong results I was able to grab in recent weeks yet I prefer to skip tomorrow slalom race as I felt a small pain at a leg in training the other day and I prefer not to take any risk in that tough specialty to better prepare some of the next races in Val d’Isère.”
“It’s really nice to reach again the podium today as I didn’t ski so well in the upper part of the second run. Fortunately I managed to soon recover my best rhythm in the lower more technical part where I took more risks. I pushed hard until the last gate and it was nice to see the crowd being so excited afterwards. I didn’t immediately saw the timing board because of all that snow I pushed in the air when I stopped, yet I understood I was in the lead at that point and this was a pretty good feeling too. Of course it’s nice to be part of the leading group in the overall World Cup standings but for the moment I don’t wish to think too much ahead – I rather fully live and enjoy the given moment and try hard to make the best out of it. I dedicate my good results to all my friends the people who are close to me. I also wish to point out that the entire Italian team is really in that event and I hope we can keep on achieving this kinds of good results.”
Lara Gut (SUI): “First of all I wish to congratulate Sofia for her great result today and her excellent season start. She is a good friend and I have been impressed by her courage and her determination during the tough period she went thru in past years because of her series of bad injuries. She reallz deserves to be at the top. Of course I won’t slow down my pace for her when I race to let her finishing ahead of me but as said I’m really happy for her. I’m also pleased by my own result today since I didn’t have the feeling to have skied to well here. It’s Ok to ski bad in one run but today I was far from my best level in both legs so I have to be satisfied with that podium finish that I didn’t really expected after the race. In tomorrow’s slalom I have no chance to reach another podium – in fact I consider it as an important test before Friday’s combined event at Val d’Isère. I’m very busy during the off-season with my intense training in giant slalom and in the speed events so I have to skip slalom training during my preparation. I’m looking forward to soon improve my form in giant slalom. I also wish to compliment the organizing committee for the excellent work done on the slope and the great atmosphere we had today with that large crowd. The course was perfectly prepared and hard enough to also allow racers with higher bibs to clock excellent times. That’s the way women’s competitions should always be prepared in future.”
Tessa Worley (FRA): “It’s for sure a great satisfaction to win two races in a row, it’s not so easy as there are so many strong specialists at the start each time. My first run was a little too conservative so I had to attack with great determination in the afternoon. I agree with Lara about the quality of the course preparation – I felt much pleasure to push hard on my skis in both run and to be able to show my best level in the afternoon. This is my 10th win on the tour and I’m pretty happy to have joined a great French GS specialist after that race – Carole Merle who has been a top contender on the circuit some years ago. I guess she would not be too upset if I manage to improve her record hopefully sometime soon in the future. I also wish to remain in the hunt for the giant slalom globe that I nearly a few seasons ago. So far this season start has been amazing for me – and I hope to ski as well in the coming weeks in France.”
Another competition is planned on Sunday at Sestriere on the Giovanni A. Agnelli course – a slalom.
You can watch it on your TV set starting at 9.30 and the 2nd run at 12.30.