Federica Brignone saw a brave run rewarded with victory on Sunday in the fifth women’s World Cup super-G of the season.
Running in perfect, sunny conditions, the Italian won around three tenths of a second over her rivals with a risky, attacking approach in the middle part of the Kälberloch course.
While many riders posted faster times on the first stage, no one matched Brignone’s pace in the steep corner section.
“I was really attacking from the top down,” said the World Cup champion from two seasons ago.
“Today it was not easy to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, because there are some very fast girls in some sections, but then made a small mistake.”
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The top 20 finished within 1.04 seconds of the winning time.
Corinne Suter came the closest with a solid finish to close the gap to Brignone to 0.04 seconds. This is the best result of the season for the Swiss downhill world champion.
“My confidence has been lacking so far, you could see it at every turn. Now I feel like I’m completely on the right track again,” Suter said.
Ariane Rädler was 0.17 behind in third for the Austrian’s first career podium.
Brignone’s triumph came a week after competing in a giant slalom in Slovenia with a knee problem. She worked with physiotherapists to prepare for the sprint races this weekend.
“My knee wasn’t perfect. But the best part was that he was good at skiing. I had almost no problems,” she said.
The result marked Brignone’s Italian record, extending the 18th career win and sixth in a super-G. It’s the first time Brignone has won multiple super-G races in one season.
“For me it’s important. It’s an emotion. I’ve won before in my career but it’s always nice,” she said.
Her Italian teammate Sofia Goggia, who had a bad fall on Saturday’s descent on the same slope, took the start despite complaints of pain.
“My whole body hurts. But skiing is better than walking,” she said ahead of the race, in which she avoided taking risks and finished 0.92 behind her teammate. Brignone in 19th.
Goggia has also won two super-G wins this season, and the two Italians are clearly top of the season’s super-G standings, with Goggia leading Brignone by just five points with four races to go.
“We have a strong speed team. We all come from giant slalom so we do good turns and super-G is a good mix,” Brignone said.
Olympic champion Ester Ledecka was six-tenths off the lead in ninth, just ahead of world super-G champion Lara Gut-Behrami, a day after the Swiss star won the downhill. Gut-Behrami is the only super-G winner other than Brignone and Goggia this season.
Defending champion Petra Vlhova finished 18th and added 13 points to her total.
Slovak trail leader Mikaela Shiffrin by 37 points overall. The American chose not to race this weekend and focus on training.
Shiffrin’s teammate Breezy Johnson also missed the races in Austria after injuring her knee in a practice crash. That left Keely Cashman as the USA Ski Team’s top finisher in 23rd, her best result of the season.
The Women’s World Cup returns to the Italian site of last year’s world championships, Cortina d’Ampezzo, for another downhill and a super-G next weekend.