Completely opposite from the men’s speed events in Lake Louise last weekend, the Women’s FIS World Cup opener was held in near-perfect racing conditions. A classic Lake Louise scene complete with bright blue skies, thin & high clouds, and an air temperature of 14 degrees Fahrenheit. While race-day onlookers would barely be able to tell, two of the three official training runs on the track were canceled due to a huge amount of snowfall. In the one training run, Sofia Goggia was the fastest of the group by 0.3s and carried the pace into both days of Downhill racing.
Lake Louise is one of few world cup speed tracks where both the women and men race, and the course set was the same this weekend as the men’s race. The women managed top speeds faster than the men, which could be attributed to better snow conditions. Nadia Delago of Italy posted the highest speed trap score, 139.18km/h (86.5mph). Delago finished both downhill races in sixth place, the first being a World Cup personal best result. Delago was just over two seconds slower than her teammate Sofia Goggia.
Goggia was unstoppable throughout the two Downhill races, as she took her fifth and sixth downhill wins in a row. Goggia is the reigning Olympic Champion in Downhill and showed her Olympic gold was no fluke in the first races of the 2021/22 season. Goggia’s first race run was an absolute Lake Louise masterclass. She came to the bottom at a time of 1:46.95, which put her directly into the hot seat after starting fifth. Goggia’s time was 1.47s faster than Wyoming’s Breezy Johnson, who also had a solid start to her Downhill season. Sofia Goggia was the only athlete to beat Johnson on both downhill days, and the 25-year-old from Jackson Hole took her first two World Cup silver medals.
“I’ve been working really hard since I got injured. I’ve been trying to seize every race because you’re not guaranteed another.”
Breezy Johnson speaking to SnowBrains
Johnson led a group of seven US Ski Team athletes down the 1.86-mile track. After taking her 71st win last weekend at the Killington Slalom, Mikaela Shiffrin seemed to initially struggle a little bit with the return to the long skis. Shiffrin finished outside the points in 38th in the first race but found some pace to come 26th in the second race. 26th position gains Shiffrin five coveted World Cup overall points against rival Petra Vlhova, who is not present at Lake Louise this weekend. While the overall title is on Mikaela’s mind, she has heavier sights set on the Olympic races.
“I have a pretty lofty goal of shooting to race in everything at the Olympics, but I can’t just go into it and do it. I’m trying to take these races as practice and training. While Lake Louise was always on Shiffrin’s planned calendar, she mentioned that ‘the last run of downhill I had was in September, and before that, it was in May. This is the best training you could possibly get in the world.”
– Mikaela Shiffrin, speaking to SnowBrains
The US Ski Team closed the day off with a World Cup newcomer. 19-year-old Lauren Macuga from Park City, Utah, made her world cup debut at Lake Louise and was all smiles at the bottom of the course. Macuga finished 49th in both races, sitting around five seconds off the pace of Sofia Goggia. “It feels amazing…” said Macuga. “It’s incredible to finally get to this point in my career.” With success in the FIS Cup and NorAm cup circuits and national championship medals, Macuga made the US Ski Team in 2020. The speed specialist is looking forward, “I’m not sure what the plan is, but for now, I’ll just be here and be here for the NorAm and see where it goes from there.”
First and second positions were the same through both downhills, but the third spot on the box held some variety. In the first race, Austrian Mirjam Puchner took advantage of an early start number and ended up on her third World Cup podium. Puchner’s last podium came with another Downhill win in 2019 in Soldeu, Andorra. Corrine Suter from Switzerland rounded out the podium on the second day. This was the 27-year-old’s 17th podium and her third one to come in Lake Louise.
Goggia finds herself with an early stranglehold on the Downhill Crystal globe with her two wins. The Italian also jumps to third position in the Overall Globe race. Shiffrin’s five points from the second downhill pushes her 25 points ahead of Vlhova. Italy sits in fifth in the Overall Nation’s Cup, with Austria still in the lead. After Lake Louise, the Women’s world cup heads to St. Moritz, Switzerland, for two more Super-G races on Dec. 11th and 12th.
Full results and schedules can be found at fis-ski.com