With multiple speed events cancelled this season due to weather and course conditions, the women on the World Cup circuit threw themselves down the infamous Kandahar slope in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany on Feb. 8-9 in hopes of making up lost points. Not among them: Mikaela Shiffrin, who has been absent from the World Cup since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2.
In Saturday’s downhill, Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg secured her first World Cup downhill win in front of a home crowd, only to sustain a season-ending injury in the next day’s super-G, while Italy’s Federica Brignone continues to climb towards the overall World Cup lead.
Viktoria Rebensburg Wins Career-First Downhill
After dealing with race cancellations due to too much snow, the women finally got a break in Garmisch, with clear skies gracing Saturday’s downhill. Nevertheless, the Kandahar is a challenging course even in favorable conditions, with much of the slope featuring challenging bumps and technical turns, almost entirely in the mountain’s shadow.
It was Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, with a home hill advantage, who skied the most direct line of the day to take her first World Cup downhill win in front of a home crowd by an impressive 0.61 seconds. Italy’s Federica Brignone finished second, while Ester Ledecka from the Czech Republic rounded out the podium in third.
American Breezy Johnson led the U.S. women in the standings in 17th place, with teammate Alice Merryweather finishing close behind her in 19th. Alice McKennis finished just outside the top 30 in 32nd.
Thanks to her second-place finish in Garmisch and her win in Russia’s super-G on Feb. 2, Brignone is closing the gap between her and Mikaela Shiffrin in the overall point standings. Shiffrin has not started in any race since the unexpected death of her father, Jeff Shiffrin, on Feb. 2.
Switzerland’s Corinne Suter, who finished fifth in Saturday’s Garmisch event, leads the downhill standings.
Switzerland’s Corinne Suter Wins Super-G
Sunday’s super-G on the Garmisch Kandahar proved another bumpy ride for the women. Switzerland’s Corinne Suter, the current downhill leader, secured her first World Cup super-G win by finishing 0.43 seconds ahead of Austria’s Nicole Schmidhofer. Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, a technical specialist, finished in third.
American Alice Merryweather, who posted her career-best finish in Garmisch last year (eighth in downhill) persevered on Sunday’s bumpy course to finish 14th, her best result of the season so far. Breezy Johnson wasn’t far behind, finishing 18th to score additional World Cup points.
“I’m pretty happy with today,” Merryweather told U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “It was definitely not easy out there—pretty bumpy and Garmisch is always dark. But I’m really happy with the way I just stuck my nose in it.”
In all, 17 racers failed to finish Sunday’s super-G course, including Americans Alice McKennis and Jacqueline Wiles as well as World Cup favorites Viktoria Rebensburg and Sofia Goggia from Italy, who sustained season-ending injuries. Rebensburg, who won the previous day’s downhill event, suffered a tibia fracture, while Goggia fractured her left arm.
Despite missing the super-G in Russia on Feb. 2 and the Garmisch speed events, Shiffrin still leads the overall World Cup standings by 145 points and still ranks second in downhill behind Switzerland’s Corinne Suter. Ester Ledecka sits in third in downhill, with Brignone in fourth. Suter now also leads the super-G standings, with Brignone in second and Schmidhofer in third; Shiffrin now trails in fourth.