Gut-Behrami wins downhill to extend lead over Shiffrin in World Cup overall standings

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Switzerland's Lara Gut Behrami reacts after completing an alpine ski, women's World Cup downhill race, in Crans Montana, Switzerland, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)

CRANS-MONTANA – Fresh from overtaking the absent Mikaela Shiffrin in the women’s World Cup overall standings, Lara Gut-Behrami won a shortened downhill on Friday to close in on the injured Sofia Goggia in the discipline standings.

Gut-Behrami, who is on a four-race winning streak, was 0.21 seconds faster than Swiss teammate Jasmine Flury on the Mont Lachaux course — much to the delight of the home fans — for her first downhill victory in more than two years.

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Austrian skier Cornelia Huetter was also second, with the same time as Flury.

“I think today the difference was about the attitude,” Gut-Behrami said. “I made a few mistakes, sometimes my ski wasn’t catching. So I would say it was a fight to stay on my skis and try to be fast.”

It was the first downhill race since discipline specialist Goggia had her season ended prematurely after breaking two bones in her right leg in a training crash.

Gut-Behrami moved 41 points behind Goggia, who has topped the World Cup downhill standings in each of the past three seasons.

There are three more downhill races this season, including one in Crans-Montana on Saturday. A race win is worth 100 points. There is also a Super-G in Crans-Montana on Sunday.

The 32-year-old Gut-Behrami overtook Shiffrin on top of the overall standings with a giant slalom victory last weekend. She extended her lead to 105 points on Friday, with Shiffrin still out nursing a left knee injury.

Gut-Behrami also leads the standings in Super-G and giant slalom, putting her on course to match Shiffrin’s impressive feat of claiming four crystal globes in 2019.

Many top skiers have been involved in serious crashes lately and suffered season-ending injuries, including Petra Vlhova, Valerie Grenier and Corinne Suter, and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, Alexis Pinturault and Marco Schwarz on the men’s circuit.

Gut-Behrami is after her second overall title, eight years after she won her first. That would tie a record with Annemarie Moser-Pröll, who won her first in 1971 and her sixth in 1979 and is the only other women’s skier to win eight years apart.

Shiffrin can win her sixth.

Lightning quick at the top, Gut-Behrami lost a lot of time on the flatter, middle section of the course but a stunning finish gave her a first downhill victory since Jan. 15, 2022, in Austria.

Because of the warm temperatures and the soft snow conditions at the arrival, the race was shortened and the finish line moved up five gates. The resort and slope is south-facing so soaks up the sun.

“It was not an easy run," Gut-Behrami said. "The snow it is pretty soft so everything gets more challenging. I have to say I didn’t have a great feeling, I just tried to push hard."

After crossing the raised arrival line, however, skiers continued down to the original finish arch in front of the fans. That was the same Crans-Montana finish line where the timing on the snow malfunctioned five years ago and the result was amended days later, with Gut-Behrami promoted onto the podium.


AP skiing:

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