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Sofia Goggia was in a class of her own during the season-opening Women’s World Cup downhill on Friday.
The Italian’s winning time in Lake Louise, Alta. Was almost a second and a half faster than finalist Breezy Johnson of the United States.In a sport where competitors are often separated by hundredths of a second, the defending Olympic downhill champion’s margin of victory was an eon.
Goggia, 29, also extended her winning streak in downhill to five dating back to last season when she won the World Cup title of the season.
“It’s the biggest advantage I’ve ever won so I’m really happy with it,” said Goggia.
“I actually can’t explain today’s victory. I think I skied as usual. The only thing I tried to do was go as straight as possible. This morning I had a lot of thoughts on my mind, but in the starting grid, I said ‘OK, let’s go. You go downstairs and you try to do your best. ‘
“I had the line in mind and tried to ski that way. “
WATCH | Italian Goggia takes victory in the downhill at Lake Louise:
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She completed the three-kilometer course in one minute, 46.95 seconds. Johnson, 24, was career second in 1: 48.42.
“I really expected to be a little closer to Sofia, but she really dropped the hammer and skied amazingly,” said the American.
“She pushes the sport forward. It really shows what women’s ski racing can be. I think maybe men should start looking at her a bit too. “
A second women’s downhill is scheduled for Saturday, followed by the super-G on Sunday at the Canadian ski resort in Banff National Park.
Last year’s Men’s and Women’s World Cups were canceled there due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Austria’s Mirjam Puchnor placed third on Friday in 1: 48.49.
Gagnon ranked first in Canada
Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., Was the top Canadian in 16th place for her best career downhill result at Lake Louise.
“In the upper section I felt pretty good, but then I made a huge mistake in the Fish Net into Fall Away,” said Gagnon. “I wasted a lot of time there. “
Reigning world downhill champion Corinne Suter of Switzerland placed fifth. Defending World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States was 26th.
A top 30 result is coveted because that is where the prize money is, but it also contributes to a top 30 bib in future races.
Gagnon, who was the eighth woman to leave the starting hut, has another chance to improve her downhill ranking on Saturday.
“I can be a little crazier and have that next extra speed, that next extra 10 percent intensity,” said the Canadiens.
Heavy, wet snow and poor visibility reduced last weekend’s Men’s World Cup in Lake Louise from three races to a single run.
The women completed their required training run on Tuesday, but the sessions on Wednesday and Thursday were canceled due to rain and the need to prepare the course for Friday’s downhill.
The weather forecast cooperated for the day of the race with sunny skies and a temperature of minus -10 C at the start.
Goggia won her first career World Cup downhill medal at Lake Louise in 2016 when she finished second. Friday’s victory was his first at the resort west of Calgary.
Goggia was the fastest in practice on Tuesday with Gagnon in seventh, just over a second behind.
“She’s definitely one of those race day people who put everything on the line and I respect her a lot for that, and I think I can learn from that,” said Gagnon. “If I have it in the preparation I know there is some extra gear I need to get started on race day.
“Certainly respect to her for today. Huge victory. “
Thompson 20th after a surprise podium
Gagnon’s fiancé, Travis Ganong of the US Ski Team, placed third in Friday’s men’s super-G in Beaver Creek, Colo.
“It’s funny because we never did well on the same day,” said Gagnon. “I was like ‘I’m going to change this.’
” Its good. We still have two races [this weekend] we both. Maybe we’ll end this curse. “
Jack Crawford of Toronto was the top Canadian in 12th place at Beaver Creek. Broderick Thompson, of Whistler, BC, was 20th per day after winning bronze in another men’s super-G there.
Thompson entered his second comeback season with a catastrophic knee injury that kept him from racing for two years.
“We were just super happy for him,” said Gagnon. “It’s so cool to see him so well. Nobody expected it and I love that, the story of the underdogs. “
Stefanie Fleckenstein of Whistler was 38th on Friday. Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., Was 43rd and Torontonian Candace Crawford was 51st.