YANQING, CHINA (AFP) – Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami added Olympic super-G gold to her world title at the Beijing Games yesterday as a relieved Mikaela Shiffrin finished ninth after flunking her first two events.
The 30-year-old Gut-Behrami, who has already won giant slalom bronze at these Games, timed one minute, 13.51 seconds for victory and the first Olympic gold medal of her career. It was also a first-ever super-G gold for Switzerland.
Austrian Mirjam Puchner took silver 0.22 seconds behind while another Swiss, 2018 Olympic combined gold medallist Michelle Gisin, claimed bronze.
“I had no strategy at all, I just tried to ski,” said Gut-Behrami, who finished fourth in super-G at two previous Olympics.
“I love super-G, I told myself it’s not a different course to lots I have skied before.
“It was a tight race and after finishing fourth twice in the super-G, I was just hoping it didn’t happen again this time!”
Shiffrin, a double gold medallist in previous Games, struggled between the first two intermediaries and eventually came racing through the finish line 0.79 seconds off winner Gut-Behrami’s pace.
It was the first time the American ski star had finished a race at these Games after she produced two unusual mistakes in the slalom and giant slalom this week, skiing out early in both.
“There was nothing sad about today, it’s really solid skiing and everything was pretty much on point,” said an upbeat Shiffrin, one of the biggest names at the Games.
“It’s a really big relief to be here now in the finish… that’s really nice for my heart to know that it’s not totally abandoning everything I know about the sport.”
Reigning super-G champion Ester Ledecka, the cross-code star who successfully defended her snowboard parallel giant slalom title on Tuesday, came fifth, behind Austrian Tamara Tippler.
Gut-Behrami laid down a superb top section which saw the racers accelerate to 100 kilometres per hour within eight seconds and move straight into a testing series of jumps swinging into blind gates.
It was the first time the women had experienced the ‘Rock’ piste because two World Cup races on the hill were cancelled over Covid restrictions in China.
And it showed as many struggled with the upper section before cascading into the canyon snaking down the rest of the 1.9-kilometre course, man-made with artificial snow in Yanqing.
Ledecka became the first woman to win a gold medal in two different sports at a Winter Olympics when she took skiing and snowboarding titles in Pyeongchang four years ago.