There is no stopping Ilka Stuhec. A surprise winner of the two downhills held in Lake Louise earlier this season, the 26-year-old Slovenian made it three by snatching the combined held on Val d’Isere’s OK piste on Friday. Third in the morning downhill run, the Maribor skier showed she still had slalom skills (8th) nine years after her junior title in the discipline: “But it was a long, long time ago,” she said.
In a combined time of 2:40.33, Stuhec dominated two skiers from the up-and-coming generation, the youngest of the Gisin clan, Michelle, who came second 0.12 seconds behind, and consistent Italian Sofia Goggia, who finished 0.16 off the pace for her 5th podium of the season. “I was not very happy with my performance in the morning downhill run and a little bit anxious before the slalom but with the level of confidence I have at the moment, it worked well,” said Stuhec, who added her change of skis at the start of the season was the major reason of her sudden rise.
Overall World Cup holder and the winner of last year’s combined on the same slope, Lara Gut was below par in the morning downhill (6th) and skidded out of contention in the afternoon. The Swiss will be eager to make up for lost points in the downhill and Super-G held later this weekend on the same OK piste.
While she shunned the Val d’Isere weekend, American Mikaela Shiffrin – whose compatriot Laurenne Ross clocked the fastest downhill time in the morning – still leads the overall World Cup standings but she’s now within reach of Goggia, who lies 91 points behind overall, with Gut third 105 points adrift. ”I don’t really want to think about the World Cup. It’s far, far ahead. I just want to keep skiing the way I’m doing at present, which is due mainly to the fact I didn’t have any major injury recently. Touch wood,” said Goggia, who like Stuhec had her early career plagued by knee problems.