Slovenian Ilka Stuhec spoiled the day for Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin by dominating the World Cup Finals downhill in Aspen, Colo., on Wednesday. Vonn finished runner-up at her third straight World Cup race.
Stuhec’s win also kept Shiffrin from clinching her first World Cup overall title. Shiffrin, who didn’t race Wednesday, will clinch Thursday if Stuhec finishes third or lower in the super-G.
“I wanted to do like every other time this season like ski the best way possible and do my best and we’ll see what comes, and ending the season with a win and a globe, it’s pretty good,” she shared.” -Stuhec
Winning half of the eight World Cup downhills this season, Stuhec held a comfortable .66 lead over Vonn, adding the World Cup downhill season title to her world championships gold medal last month. Italian Sofia Goggia was third, 1.03 behind.
At the finish, Vonn, exhausted by a severe chest cold, lost control attempting to stop and slid under one of the finish-area airbags designed to protect racers. For a few moments most of her body was pinned underneath the airbag with her legs poking out.
“I was wrapped in there real tight, like burrito style,” Vonn joked after the 130th World Cup podium of her remarkable career. “I was like, ‘I can’t breathe and I can’t move. Someone’s got to come help me get out of here real fast,’ because it was like compressing me.”
Vonn remains stuck on 77 career World Cup wins, nine shy of the record held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark.
“I was in the start and was like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this,’” Vonn said. “I’m going to ski my best, and the results are the results. I can’t give any more than that. I pushed as hard as I could.”
In the small 20-skier field, six of the athletes were on the U.S. Ski Team, meaning Americans made up about 30 percent of the field. Laurenne Ross skied to a fifth-place finish, one of her best results of the 2016-17 season. Jacqueline Wiles finished in 14th place while Stacey Cook and Alice Merryweather ended the day in 16th and 19th, respectively.
This was Merryweather’s World Cup debut. The young athlete earned her spot thanks to her Junior World Championship downhill win in Are, Sweden.
Breezy Johnson did not finish after taking a gnarly crash towards the end of the course. She was able to walk off the course on her own.
TOP TEN WOMENS DOWNHILL at ASPEN
Peter Fill didn’t win a downhill race all season. No matter, since ever so steady works, too. The only Italian downhiller to do so, Fill retained his overall downhill title Wednesday by finishing second to teammate Dominik Paris at World Cup Finals.
Fill entered the day trailing Kjetil Jansrud of Norway by 33 points in the standings, but used a consistent run to overtake Jansrud, who wound finished 11th.
Fill ended up capturing the title by 23 points during a season in which he wound up on the downhill podium five times, only never on the top step. That is, until Wednesday, when he accepted the crystal globe for the season title and jumped into the air to punctuate the moment.
“He’s Mr. Consistent,” said Jansrud, who won the downhill title in 2014-15. “That’s how you win globes.”
For the Americans, Travis Ganong (Sqauw Valley, CA) was 17th, and Sam Morse, who won the Junior World Downhill title last week in Are, Sweden, finished 21st in his World Cup debut.
“What an unbelievable experience,” said Morse, who heads off to Mont Ste-Marie, Quebec for the NorAm finals this weekend and then U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf, Maine. “This is great! It’s an honor just to be here, to be even within the same ballpark with these guys is incredible.”
The men and women now race super-G in Aspen on Thursday, March 16.