CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (AP) — Czech skier Ester Ledecka shrugged off her Olympic disappointment Saturday by winning the first women’s World Cup downhill after the Beijing Games.
Ledecka had an attacking run down the Mont Lachaux course in perfect sunny conditions to earn her third career win and second in downhill, more than two years after her maiden triumph in Lake Louise, Alberta.
“It was a really nice run. I did a lot of things better than in training,” she said.
Ledecka usually does well in the Central Swiss ski resort, gaining three of her seven career podiums here. However, she placed only 50th and 40th, respectively, in the training runs over the past two days.
Ledecka said she suffered from muscle problems since returning from the Olympics.
“I had a bit of health troubles last week. So, it was difficult to get back to full strength,” she said. “Those two trainings were very difficult for me, those were the worse trainings of my career. But today I felt much better, the body was ready for the race."
Saturday’s triumph came 11 days after Ledecka finished only 27th in the Olympic downhill.
That result followed her fifth place in the super-G and meant she missed out on a repeat of her achievement from the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, when she won a gold medal in both Alpine skiing and snowboarding.
“There were only two days after the snowboard race to prepare for the super-G. So, after all, I think we did good work there,” said Ledecka, who did win the snowboarding parallel giant slalom race again in Beijing.
On Saturday, Ledecka beat Ragnhild Mowinckel by 0.21 seconds. It was the Norwegian racer's eighth career podium but first in downhill.
Cornelia Hütter of Austria came 0.42 behind in third.
All three downhill medalists from Beijing finished well behind. The Olympic race was won by Corinne Suter of Switzerland, followed by Italians Sofia Goggia and Nadia Delago, but the trio came nowhere near the podium in Saturday’s race and finished more than 1.2 seconds off the pace in 10th, 12th, and 14th place, respectively.
Another pre-race favorite, Olympic super-G champion Lara Gut-Behrami, failed to finish. The Swiss star landed a jump too far to the left and missed the next gate.
Goggia, who returned just in time while still recovering from injury to take Olympic silver, remained in the lead of the discipline standings with 422 points, 65 ahead of Suter. Another downhill is scheduled for Sunday.
Goggia has won four World Cup downhills this season and Saturday's race was the first in 16 months which she finished but did not win.
“Today is a day that teaches me how to lose,” the Italian Olympic champion from 2018 said. “It was since December 2020 that I had been unbeaten in the World Cup in the races in which I crossed the finish line, and I knew this day would have to come.”
Mikaela Shiffrin sat out the race to prepare for upcoming events. The American remained in the overall World Cup lead, 15 points ahead of Petra Vlhová. The defending overall champion from Slovakia finished in 29th and added just two points to her season tally.
Goggia is third in the overall standings, trailing Shiffrin by 235 points.
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