This past weekend saw some incredible racing at St. Moritz, Switzerland, with many outstanding performances, but this year’s Women’s FIS Alpine World Cup in the Engadin will be remembered by “La Mano” (The Hand). Specifically, Sofia Goggia’s left hand fractured on Friday during the first speed event at the iconic Swiss Downhill event, when the Italian race skier hit a gate with her left hand while hurtling down the slope at more than 60 miles an hour.
On Friday, December 16, 2022, the first of two Women’s Downhill events was held. The visibility was not optimal, but that did not keep the world’s fastest women from giving it their all. US racer Mikaela Shiffrin, who had skipped the last FIS speed event instead of training for her stronger disciplines, Giant-Slalom and Slalom, did return to put on the long skis and raced to an impressive sixth place, just behind teammate Breezy Johnson, who came in fifth. Friday’s podium winners were Elena Curtoni in first place and Sofia Goggia in second place, both from Italy. Switzerland’s Corinne Suter came third, narrowly beating teammate Jasmine Flury, who ended up fourth.
Despite her stellar performance, Sofia Goggia, known as the ‘Queen of Speed,’ did not share the other podium winners’ elated looks. Instead, the Italian race skier looked in pain when she crossed the finish line. She held her left hand awkwardly and tentatively pulled off the glove as her team rushed to her side. The cameras showed her left hand on the TV screens, which was turning a deep shade of blue. The crowd gasped, and everyone realized her hand was broken. Sofia Goggia was ushered off and did not stay for the presentation.
On social media, Sofia shared pictures of her swollen hand, saying she was being driven to Milan, Italy, for emergency surgery. Milan is about 2 hours and 45 minutes from St. Moritz, Switzerland. Doctors in Italy concluded that she had not just one but two fractures in her left hand and set the hand in a lengthy surgery with nine screws and two plates.
For some, it may have looked like the end of the 22/23 season for the Downhill specialist. Sofia Goggia had been off to a great start with consecutive wins in Downhill at Lake Louise last weekend. The Italian won the small crystal globe for Downhill in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and Silver at the Beijing Olympics. “What will you do,” a friend asked in a text exchange she shared on social media. “Surgery in Milan. And then come back and win,” Goggia texted back confidently. Those who knew her were not surprised by the Italian race skier’s determination. Sofia Goggia was known for her ability to bounce back from injury, having come back from a knee injury in January this year to compete at the Beijing Olympics successfully.
So on Saturday morning, the Italian did return to Switzerland for the second Downhill race in St. Moritz. With the ski pole taped to her hand and no plastic shield to protect her broken hand, Goggia had to rely entirely on gravity at the starting gate as she could not push out. Despite that inability, she could pick an aerodynamic position and the right line and race an incredible Downhill run to finish in first place. As the Italian crossed the finish line, the predominantly Swiss crowd in the finish area erupted in cheers. Germany’s Kira Weidle, who up until then had been leading the field, took a bow from her podium seat. Goggia was not just the ‘Queen of Speed,’ but her incredible determination despite her injury made her the queen of hearts that day in St. Moritz.
Sofia Goggia beat Slovakia’s Ilka Stuhec by 0.43 seconds to second place, and Kira Weidle ultimately came third, just 0.09 seconds behind Ilka. Team USA’s Mikaela Shiffrin took fourth place with a mere 0.09 seconds behind Kira Weidle. Isabella Wright came in 11th, Breezy Johnson 25th, Tricia Mangan 40th, Lauren Macuga 43rd, and Keely Cashman 48th.