CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (Reuters) – Swiss Lara Gut won the World Cup Super G at Cortina on Sunday to claim her first win since last February’s knee injury and signal her return to form in time for the Winter Olympics.
Lindsey Vonn, winner of the previous day’s downhill, was clearly hampered by the strong, unpredictable wind as she was sixth and her fellow American Mikaela Shiffrin failed to finish.
Shiffrin, a slalom specialist who is the runaway leader of the overall World Cup standings, never found the right line and missed a gate early in her run.
The course had to be shortened after 10 centimeters of snow fell overnight and the wind made conditions even more treacherous.
Gut, who finished fourth in Friday’s downhill but was a disappointing 13th in another downhill race on Saturday, finished in one minute 14.78 seconds to win by 0.14 seconds from Italian Johanna Schnarf while Austrian Nicole Schmidhofer was third.
It was Gut’s 24th World Cup win — the last coming in the downhill at the same venue in January last year.
The Swiss, overall World Cup winner in 2016 and bronze medalist in the downhill at the Sochi Olympics, tore an anterior cruciate ligament in her knee at the world championships in St Moritz last February.
Her form has been inconsistent this season as she recovers from the injury but she finished second in the Super G races at both Lake Louise and Bad Kleinkirchheim.
Four-times overall World Cup winner Vonn shook her head in frustration after her run.
But her second place in Friday’s downhill and her win on Saturday showed that the 33-year-old, who missed Sochi through injury, will still be a gold medal contender in Pyeongchang next month.
“An unlucky day…never had such a strong wind gust in a race ever in my life. Oh well, can’t change it. I’ll save the good luck for February I guess,” said Vonn on Twitter.
“Also tough race considering most of the athletes are still qualifying for the Olympics and wind is dictating results.”
Shiffrin remained runaway leader of the overall World Cup standings with 1477 points, a huge 876 clear of Tina Weirather. Gut’s win took her top of the Super G standings.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis)