Cortina Audi FIS Ski World Cup 2019
Olympia has crowned its first queen, Ramona Siebenhofer, who collects her first World Cup career win. It was an important first for the 27-year-old Austrian. Her performance in Val Gardena had hinted at great things, coming first in both the timed training sessions, but Olympia gave her the boost she needed to clinch her victory, coming in 40 hundredths ahead of the champion Ilka Stuhec and 46 ahead of fellow Austrian Stephanie Venier. Corinne Suter from Switzerland missed the top three by just a hundredth of a second, while Francesca Marsaglia, fourth at the third intermediate timing point, looked as if she might make it onto the podium. She missed it but her result today was a great outcome, considering she had missed the whole of last season due to an injury.
After securing her first career win in Friday’s race, twenty-four hours later Ramona Siebenhofer was back with another impeccable performance and won her second downhill in Cortina. It is the first time in the history of the course that a female skier has won back-to-back downhills and earns the Austrian a place in the Cortina record books. Lindsey Vonn’s expression, captured at the starting gate just after the Austrian crossed the finish line, spoke volumes: amazement mingled with admiration. The Austrian’s team mate Nicole Schmidhofer, who started two numbers after her, was the only one to even come close, leading until the penultimate intermediate time check. But it was the final part of the course, which awards those who let their skis run, that Siebenhofer made the difference, taking home her second consecutive victory.
Behind the two Austrian athletes was the Slovenian Ilka Stuhec, on blistering form, who has turned the corner after her long absence due to injury, coming in 51 hundredths behind Siebenhofer. Just outside the podium was the real revelation, the German Kira Weidle, who skied incredibly in the first two races, whereas Lindsey Vonn moved up a couple of places to ninth, 1"36 off the pace.
Sunday race – the hundredth in Cortina’s World Cup history – witnessed a truly phenomenal passage of the torch. On the day of Lindsey Vonn’s last race in Cortina, and as the US champion wiped the tears from her eyes, Mikaela Shiffrin, her extraordinary heir, triumphed on Olympia. They may be two completely different athletes, but they have the most important thing in common: victory. As Vonn bid a fond farewell to her public, Shiffrin counted her wins, which now total 54, the same as Herrmann Maier and just one behind Vreni Schneider. Mikaela is 23 and looks set to beat her captain’s record.
Off-plan, Sofia Goggia bowed to Lindsey Vonn as the US champion, who went out midway down the course, crossed the finish line, and handed her a bouquet of flowers. Then the two athletes, who shared the victories last year, hugged emotionally. It was the last race in Cortina for the American superstar who has enjoyed twenty podium wins on Olympia and twelve victories.