Goggia dominates season opening World Cup downhill in Lake Louise

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Sofia Gogia was in a class in the downhill opening season of the Women’s World Cup on Friday.

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The Italian’s victory time at Lake Louise, Alta., was about one and a half seconds faster than runner-up Breezy Johnson of the United States.

In a sport where competitors are often separated by a hundredth of a second, the margin of victory for the current Olympic downhill champion was an aeon.


The 29-year-old also extended his run of downhill victories to five straight dating back to last season, when he claimed the World Cup season title.

“It’s the biggest benefit I’ve ever had, so I’m very happy with it,” Gogia said.

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“I really can’t explain today’s win. I feel like I skied like normal. The only thing I tried to do was go as straight as I could. Too many on my mind this morning.” Thoughts were there, but at the start gate I said ‘Okay, let’s go. You go down and you try to do your best.’

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“I had the line in mind and tried to ski that way.”

He covered a distance of three kilometers in a time of one minute 46.95 seconds. Johnson, 24, finished a career-best second with 1:48.42.

“I certainly expected Sofia to be a little closer, but she really just put down the hammer and skied incredibly,” said the American.

“She’s pushing the sport. She’s really showing what women’s ski racing can be. I think men should probably start looking at her a little too.”

A second women’s downhill is scheduled for Saturday, followed by a Super-G on Sunday at the Canadian ski resort in Banff National Park.

Sunshine Village ski resort in Banff closed on Wednesday

Last year’s men’s and women’s World Cups were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Austria’s Mirjam Puchnor finished third in 1:48.49 on Friday.

Marie-Michel Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Ky., was the top Canadian at 16th for her career-best downhill result at Lake Louise.

“The top section I loved, but then I made a big mistake in the fall away in the fish net,” Gagan said. “I lost a lot of time there.”

The current world downhill champion, Corinne Sutter of Switzerland, is fifth. Defending overall World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the US was 26th.

A top-30 result is coveted because that is where the prize money is, but it also contributes to a top-30 start in future races.

Gagnon, who was the eighth woman to exit the start hut, got another chance on Saturday to improve her downhill rankings.

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“I can go a little more crazy, and he has that next extra gear, that next extra 10 percent intensity,” said the Canadian.

Heavy, wet snow and poor visibility brought last weekend’s men’s World Cup in Lake Louise down three races to a downhill.

The section of Highway 93 between Jasper and Banff will be closed for a few days due to winter storm concerns

The women ran their expected one on Tuesday, but Wednesday’s and Thursday’s sessions were called off due to rain and needed to prepare the course for Friday’s downhill.

The weather cooperated for race day with sunny skies and temperatures of minus -10 C at the start.

Gogia won her first career World Cup downhill medal at Lake Louise in 2016, when she finished second. Friday’s win at the resort west of Calgary was his first.

Gogia was fastest in Tuesday’s training, while Gagnon was in seventh place, just over a second behind.

“He’s definitely one of those guys who puts everything on the line on race day and I respect him a lot for that, and I think I can learn from that,” Gagan said. “If I have one in preparation, I know I need a spare gear for race day.

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“Definitely his honor for today. Big win.”

Gagnon’s fiancee, Travis Ganong of the US Ski Team, finished third in Friday’s men’s Super-G in Beaver Creek, Colo.

“It’s funny because we’ve never done well in a single day,” Gagnon said. “I was like ‘I’m going to change this.’

“Okay. We both have two more races (this weekend). Maybe we can put an end to that curse.”

Toronto’s Jack Crawford was the top Canadian in Beaver Creek in 12th place. Broderick Thompson of Whistler, BC, finished 20th a day after earning bronze in another men’s Super-G.

Thompson began his second season of return following a knee injury that kept him out of racing for two years.

“We were just super-stoke for him,” Gagan said. “It’s great to see him do so well. Nobody expected it and I love that, Dalit story.”

Whistler’s Stephanie Fleckenstein was ranked 38th on Friday. Ontario’s Collingwood’s Ronnie Remay was 43rd and Toronto’s Candace Crawford 51st.

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