Switzerland’s Corinne Suter powered to the gold medal in a thrilling women’s downhill race at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday, pipping Italy’s defending champion Sofia Goggia to the title by 0.16 seconds.
Suter, the reigning downhill world champion, swept down the piste, known as ‘The Rock’, in a time of 1:31.87, to knock Goggia off the top of the leaderboard and end her hopes of a remarkable comeback from injury.
“It’s my biggest dream in my life, so today I don’t know what to say,” said Suter after a race which had been delayed by 30 minutes due to high winds in the upper section.
“In the finish area I wasn’t sure if it was good or not, because sometimes I had the feeling that there was wind against me, and then with me, and also from the side. It was not so easy today, but now I’m super happy.”
The Swiss are top of the Alpine medal table after Lara Gut-Behrami won gold in the women’s super-G, while in the men’s events Beat Feuz won the downhill and Marco Odermatt was the gold medallist in giant slalom.
It is the first time since 1980 at Lake Placid that the same country has won the downhill in the men’s and women’s events.
The 29-year-old Goggia, who had fought back to fitness after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in a crash at Cortina d’Ampezzo last month, had to settle for the silver medal with her compatriot Nadia Delago taking bronze.
Goggia, the Pyeongchang 2018 winner and the dominant force in women’s downhill, let out a huge scream at the finish line as she moved ahead of Delago into top spot, giving her the chance of a remarkable repeat win and an Italian sweep of the medals.
But then the 27-year-old Suter, Goggia’s closest challenger on the World Cup circuit, produced an outstanding run to grab top spot, maintaining speed throughout the course and crucially in the bottom stage where she found the vital hundredths to beat the Italian.
“I gave everything I could. I was really happy with my skiing,” said Goggia, who spent three days on crutches after her crash on Jan. 23.
“In the end I’m happy with my result, because being here at the Olympics after my crash in Cortina was not guaranteed at all.
“It’s still a medal. It’s still a great medal. It’s an unbelievable medal because of the condition of the last 20 days.
“I found an incredible strength inside of myself, and I was travelling by a sort of light. I’m glad I gave everything to be here today, I’m glad and grateful that I could achieve another medal, and I’m happy with myself,” said the Bergamo-born skier.
Another Italian Elena Curtoni, first out of the start hut, was in line for bronze until Suter’s brilliant run and she ended in fifth place, behind German Kira Weidle.
American Mikaela Shiffrin, who failed to finish in her specialist events, slalom and giant slalom, was 18th as she looked to get some speed racing in ahead of Thursday’s combined event.
Shiffrin paid tribute to Goggia’s strength in coming back from her crash and injury to take silver.
“It feels a little impossible that she is here, after that crash. I don’t think that anyone knows the full details of her injury but you know it is a significant one,” she said.
“It is silver rather than gold but it is a medal that was very, very hard to find. It is really impressive. She has been dealing with a lot of pressure as well. Incredible she could come and perform like that.”
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