Alpine Inisider – January 27, 2020
After a long hiatus the Women’s World Cup races returned to Bansko, Bulgaria for two Downhill competitions on Friday (rescheduled race from Val d’Isere) and Saturday wrapping up with Sunday’s Super-G race.
From my view there are three major storylines that came out of this weekend’s Bansko races:
1 – The course. The course may be best characterized as the “just make it down alive” course (checkout @fisalpine). Friday’s Downhill saw nearly one in three competitors falling or skiing out including notable racers Soffia Goggia, Lara Gut-Behrami, Michelle Gisin, and Americans Alice Merryweather, Alice McKennis, and Jacqueline Wiles. A very steep, Super-G like course exhibiting a steep left turn traverse over a series of rollers struck fear into the heart of most racers while claiming a third of them. Fortunately, race organizers adjusted Saturday’s course affording more width across the track reducing the number of DNF’s to seven.
2 – Mikaela Shiffrin. American phenom Mikaela Shiffrin did not disappoint with 1st place finishes in Friday’s Downhill and Sunday’s Super-G. Shiffrin continues to put her stamp on the speed events while persisting in her domination of the technical events. This weekend’s outcome landed Shiffrin with her 66th World Cup victory, only one short of Marcel Hirscher’s 67 victories. Similarly, she is maintaining a commanding lead in the Overall standings at the midpoint of the season with 1,225 points in front of her nearest competitor Federica Brignone (ITA) following in second with 855 points.
3 – Team Italia! Roll out the pizza and pasta, this weekend was a true “Festa” for the Italian women! The Italians churned out 7 top 5 finishes highlighted by a 1-2-3 sweep of Saturday’s Downhill. A perfect trifecta of performances by Elana Curtoni, Federica Brignone, and Marta Bassino demonstrated under no uncertain terms the depth and talent of the Italian team. As for those individuals, Curtoni basked in her first World Cup victory, Bassino found two second place finishes (10th and 11th podium appearances), and Brignone continuing to rack up points toward her Overall, Super-G, and Downhill standings.
Finally, there were other notable results that cannot be overlooked: Swiss skier Joana Haehlen achieving her first career podium with a 3rd place finish in Friday’s Downhill; Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland finding her groove again with a 3rd place finish in the Super-G (48th World Cup podium for her); and American Breezy Johnson with a 10th place showing in Friday’s Downhill only to be eclipsed by a 5th place finish in Saturday’s Downhill.
The Women’s World Cup circuit resumes next weekend in Russia’s Rosa Khutor resort on February 1st and 2nd.