Gut underlines Olympic super-G ambitions
Switzerland's Lara Gut competes in the FIS Ski World Cup Ladies' Downhill in Cortina d'Ampezzo on January 25, 2014 - by Pierre Teyssot
The 22-year-old, a super-G winner at Beaver Creek and Lake Louise in December, put behind her a series of disappointing results lately to clock a winning time of 1min 27.81sec on the Olympia delle Tofane course.
"It is a good feeling to win today," said Gut, who disappointed with a 19th place in Thursday's super-G before bouncing back with a fourth place and then 10th place in two consecutive downhills Friday and Saturday.
"I started the season so strong with four podiums in the early races, but then the tour came back to Europe and I never got to see the podium again."
Liechtenstein's Tina Weirather was second at 0.12secs with Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch extending her overall World Cup lead by finishing third at 0.61 to claim her third podium place in four days of racing in the Italian Dolomites.
Gut's win, meanwhile, reinforced her lead in the super-G standings -- she now leads Tina Weirather by 38 points -- and pushed her up to fourth place overall at the expense of Slovenian Tina Maze, who dropped to fifth.
Gut, on 796 points, has little chance of catching Hoefl-Riesch (1071), who leads Weirather by 128 points, but the Swiss admitted her first win since the start of December had come at the right time.
"It was a difficult time, I could see success in my mind, but you couldn't see it on the slopes. Now today, this win, it was very important for me."
In near perfect racing conditions Verena Stuffer raised home hopes of a first ever World Cup podium place when she clocked the fastest provisional time with bib number three.
However the Italian eventually finished fourth when Hoefl-Riesch, who recovered from a major mistake on a right turn near the bottom of the course, finished seven hundredths of a second faster.
Slovenian Tina Maze was also in the mix, the defending World Cup champion following up her maiden win of the season in Saturday's downhill with a promising fifth place at 0.72.
Elisabeth Goergl, meanwhile, was the top Austrian in sixth place but at 0.82 behind Gut, while American Julia Mancuso continued her struggle for form less than three weeks before the Sochi Games.
Mancuso, a double silver medal winner in the super-combined and downhill at the Vancouver Games in 2010, finished in 15th place at 1.91 behind Gut.