Sophia Gogia picks up where she left off in Lake Louise, Alta.
The Italian ski racer’s victory in the season-opening Women’s World Cup downhill on Friday was her fourth-straight win at the Banff National Park resort, including her sweep of last year’s three races.
“I’m very happy with the result and the result but I’m still not happy with my performance because I think I was a little too wild and dirty today,” Gogia told the Canadian Press.
He still set a winning time of one minute 47.81 seconds.
Just six hundredths of a second separated first from third, with Olympic downhill champion Corinne Sutter of Switzerland crossing the line four-hundredths of a second behind Goggia.
Cornelia Hütter of Austria finished third.
“I was really tense and worried when they were coming down, because you never know. It’s a game of hundredths with this course, which goes for three kilometres,” said Gogia.
“What’s it like to win by four hundredths of a second? It’s uncountable.
Another downhill is scheduled for Saturday followed by a super-G on Sunday.
Gogia was only the third woman to score a Lake Louise hat-trick last season after America’s Lindsey Vonn (2015, 2012, 2011) and Germany’s Katja Seesinger (1997).
After winning four of the first five women’s downhills in 2021-22, Gogia crashed in a super-G in Cortina, Italy, just two weeks before the Olympic Games.
Despite a foot and knee injury, the 30-year-old earned silver in Beijing’s downhill behind Suter, who finished second to Gogia in the overall downhill last season.
“We have to push each other to the limit and I’m excited for tomorrow,” Sutter said Friday.
“I made two or three small mistakes today, but I think when you go fast, that happens and it’s normal.”
Marie-Michel Gagnon of Lac Etecmin, Que., was disappointed to finish 24th.
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“We did quite a bit of giant slalom training to improve our technique and hopefully take the next step, so we did very little downhill training,” Gagnon said.
“My feeling is a little off right now because you can probably see me going down. This is not dial in in general.
“It’s just a matter of trying to find a good balance of attacking, but attacking in the right way.”
Whistler, BC Stephanie Fleckenstein of the United States was tied for 39th. The 25-year-old skied as an independent Friday. She is trying to make a comeback in the national team.
“I’ve been free for two years now,” Fleckenstein said. “It’s definitely tougher as a speed skier because national teams are a priority with a lot of training.
“The goal is definitely to use my Nor Am place in the World Cup this year and try to qualify again, but it’s going to be a battle.”
The first race of the season was held in a temperature of -19 with cloudy skies and a light breeze.
US ski star Mikaela Shiffrin, who won the downhill in 2017 and the super-G in 2018 at Lake Louise, didn’t make the trip to Alberta. She is focusing on Slalom and Giant Slalom this season.
The world governing body of skis and snowboards, the FIS, attempted to start the downhill season earlier this fall, with cross-border men’s and women’s races that start in Zermatt, Switzerland and end in Cervinia, Italy .
The men’s race on October 29–30 and the women’s on November 5–6 were called off due to poor snow conditions, so the downhill season opener was reverted to its traditional Lake Louise venue.
However, the future of the World Cup at Lake Louise remains uncertain.
Alpine Canada has committed to maintaining the men’s speed race only in Western Canada, with the location still to be determined.
The debut of the women’s World Cup giant slalom in Mont-Tremblant, Que., in 2023, and falling on the same traditional weekend as the women’s speed race in Lake Louise, is a strike against Lake Louise being the only women’s downhill race in the north. America.
Gogia said, “I’m sorry because Lake Louise is a fairy tale place.” “I really like it, but not just because I win. It’s the last chance for a hat-trick. We’ll see, but I’ve only (won) one so I’m happy with it.”
The prize money of 132,000 Swiss francs (C$190,000) in each Women’s World Cup race at Lake Louise is divided on a descending scale between 1st to 30th. The winner earns 50,000 (C$70,000) to 550.
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