After a training day on Friday, races resumed at the 2023 World Championships in Courchevel and Méribél, France, on Saturday, February 11, 2023, with the Women’s Downhill. The starting list was brimming with 29 of the world’s strongest speed women, including 22/23 World Cup leader in Downhill Sofia Goggia from Italy, second-ranked Ilka Stuhec from Slovakia, and third-ranked Elena Curtoni, also from Italy.
Sofia Goggia was hands down the favorite after a strong season despite suffering a broken hand in St. Moritz in December, but the Italian caught a rut on a straight bit, throwing her balance and causing her to go past the next gate with one ski either side, resulting in an instant disqualification. While upsetting for ‘La Regina della Velocita’ (the Queen of Speed), it is incredible the Italian did not crash and get injured at the speed she was going at. The favorite admitted to being gutted and said in an interview: “It hurts. I am more than disappointed,” but she vows to come back stronger and focus on the upcoming World Cup race in Crans Montana, Switzerland.
Instead, Jasmine Flury from Switzerland won the Downhill World Championship. It is a continuation of a strong performance by underdogs at this World Championship after a slew of lesser-known skiers had made the podium this week, leaving some favorites in their wake. The Davos native is a 9-year World Cup veteran and has competed in three World Championships and two Olympics, but the until now had only ever podiumed twice. Likewise, Jasmine Flury has only ever won one World Cup, a Super-G in St. Moritz in 2017.
Just 0.04 seconds behind Jasmine Flury was Austria’s Nina Ortlieb, who skied into a close second place. The 26-year-old has only three World Cup podiums to her name and had won two Junior World Championships in 2015 and 2016, so it was another podium surprise. Nina is the daughter of the 1996 World Champion and 1992 Olympic Champion in Downhill, Patrick Ortlieb.
Defending 2021 World Champion in Downhill and 2022 Olympic Downhill champion Corinne Suter skied a spectacular run, finishing just 0.12 seconds behind her teammate and winning her the Bronze medal on the ‘Roc de Fer’ course. The 28-year-old was in tears at the finish line, calling her podium “incredible” and thanking her entire team, especially those who always believed in her and were working in the background, insinuating some had written her off for this World Championship. After an excellent start to the season in December with four podiums, including a Gold in Super-G in Lake Louise, Canada, Suter had a 14th and 10th at St. Anton and then crashed in Cortina, Italy, in January, suffering a black eye. It is fantastic to see her come back so strong from her crash.
Ilka Stuhec came in sixth place, while Lara Gut-Behrami came 9th. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel finished 10th, and Italy’s Elena Curtoni came 13th. The best American skier was Isabella Wright in 19th, followed by Tricia Mangan in 23rd. Breezy Johnson, unfortunately, recorded a DNF after she slid out as her skis failed to grip in a turn. This ends the speed women’s competitions, and next week will be tech events, Slalom and Giant Slalom, and Parallel events.