Alpine Skiing

Corinne Suter wins as Nicole Schmidhofer escapes serious injury at Val d'Isere

Swiss skier Suter claims first World Cup downhill of the season from Sofia Goggia and Breezy Johnson in race interrupted by crashes just after the course's famous compression.

By Ken Browne ·

Corinne Suter won the first Alpine Ski World Cup women's downhill of the season on Friday (18 December) in Val d'Isere, France.

The 26-year-old Swiss made the perfect start to the defence of her downhill Crystal Globe, clocking 1:44.62 on a course which provided more than its fair share of incident.

Italy's reigning downhill Olympic champion Sofia Goggia finished second after almost crashing on the famous compression jump, 0.11s behind, with American Breezy Johnson (+0.20) third for her first World Cup podium finish.

There was huge relief all round after 2017 Super G world champion Nicole Schmidhofer escaped serious injury after a horrific crash.

The 31-year-old lost control on the right-hand turn immediately following the compression jump, going straight on and through the safety netting shoulder first at around 110 kilometres per hour.

The ski patrol was quickly on the scene but the 2019 World Cup downhill series winner, one of a handful of members of the Austrian team who have recently recovered from COVID, was not sighted by TV cameras for several worrying minutes.

Schmidhofer was eventually transported down the hill on a sled and Austrian women’s team head coach Christian Mitter later said she was in hospital with an injured left knee and abrasions on her face.

Ski patrollers examine the hole in the safety netting left by Nicole Schmidhofer's crash in the Val d'Isere downhill

After racing resumed, last year's overall World Cup winner Federica Brignone fell at the same spot as Schmidhofer.

This time the safety netting did its job with the Italian able to get back on her skis and make her way down the piste unassisted.

Switzerland's Joana Haehlen then lost control on the compression and, unlike Goggia, was unable to regain it before hitting the deck with her airbag activating before she went into the nets.

She was unhurt, as were Alice McKennis-Duran of the United States and France's Laura Gauche who also failed to negotiate the tricky right-hander.

But Suter was the star of the day and, having won both downhill and Super G series crowns last season, looks to be the world's premier female speed skier at present.

This was her third career World Cup win with her first coming in the downhill at Altenmarkt in January.

Norway's double Olympic medallist Ragnhild Mowinckel was ninth in her first downhill for over 600 days.

The 28-year-old, who won silver in the downhill and giant slalom at PyeongChang 2018, tore her ACL in training for the World Cup Finals in March 2019 and tore it again ahead of last season.

Wearing start bib number two, Mowinckel was delighted as she took the lead momentarily and this was a big improvement on her 20th and 26th in last weekend's giant slaloms at Courchevel.

Petra Vlhova finished 26th, extending her overall World Cup lead over Mikaela Shiffrin by five points to 150.

The skiers reassemble in the French alpine resort tomorrow for a second downhill followed by a Super G on Sunday.

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