Swiss teen takes super G for first World Cup win
December 20, 2008
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland ” Swiss teenager Lara Gut put on a breakthrough performance Saturday to win a super G race for her first World Cup victory, while American Lindsey Vonn maintained the overall lead despite skiing off course.
Skiing first on a course shortened by fog, the 17-year-old Gut finished in 57.38 seconds, 0.63 ahead of Switzerland’s Fabienne Suter. Italy’s Nadia Fanchini was third, trailing Gut by 0.87.
Julia Mancuso was the top American, finishing 13th.
Vonn skied out about halfway down the course. The defending overall World Cup champion was one of many racers caught out by a bump in a fast section after a sharp right-hand turn.
Gut’s victory confirmed the huge potential she showed in February finishing third in a World Cup downhill on the same St. Moritz course, despite crashing near the end and sliding across the finish line.
“It’s a lucky place for me, and I hope it will be for years to come,” said Gut, already the darling of the Swiss fans.
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She said she took advantage of racing first on a softer course that was cleared of windblown snow overnight.
“I didn’t have any bumps on the course so I could drive more smoothly,” she said. “I was a bit scared waiting for Lindsey to come down because I thought she would be faster.”
Vonn said Gut’s breakout win was not a surprise.
“She has been skiing well all season so far,” the 24-year-old said. “She has got a lot to learn still, but on a day like today, running No. 1, it was a perfect chance for her. She definitely executed and seized the opportunity.”
Vonn was less impressed with the course setting.
“It’s not the best idea to set the fastest turns right into a bump where the light is flat and no one can see anything,” she said. “It’s a very dangerous situation.”
The Park City, Utah, resident said the bump came upon her too quickly to react.
“I launched off of it and had no chance to make the next gate,” Vonn said. “I am just really bummed out, because I thought I had a good run going. It’s been a bad weekend.”
Jim Tracy, the U.S. women’s team head coach, described Mancuso’s run as “a comeback of sorts.”
“It’s a big step,” Tracy said. “She executed her run really well, she really charged the thing.”
Vonn stayed atop the overall standings with 438 points despite also failing to score in Friday’s super-combined when she missed a gate in the slalom leg.
She was 38 points ahead of Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen, a slalom specialist who skipped the St. Moritz speed events. Germany’s Maria Riesch, the defending World Cup super-G champion who missed a gate before the halfway mark Saturday, was third with 378.
The St. Moritz meet finishes with a downhill Sunday.