Gut, Goergl have point to prove in Olympic super-G
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — After two tearful finishes and one Olympic medal, Lara Gut is now looking at her best shot at gold.
The 22-year-old Swiss skier has won three of the five super-G races on the World Cup circuit this season and leads the discipline standings. So a win in Saturday’s super-G would make up for all the disappointment in Sochi.
“Well, I am a fighter. I have nothing to lose now so I’m going to give everything,” Gut said after finishing third in the Olympic downhill, 0.10 seconds behind co-winners Tina Maze and Dominique Gisin. “My bronze ... is going to help me. Because I would love to stand in the middle one day.”
Gut’s first Olympic medal added to her three world championship silvers — including in the super-G won by Maze last year.
“It goes up and goes down so fast, so you have to give your best every day and if it doesn’t work, you just have to stand up and do it the next day,” said Gut, who missed the entire Olympic season four years ago while recovering from a dislocated right hip.
Gut is not the only woman racing with extra reason to prove a point.
Elisabeth Goergl, a former world champion in downhill and super-G, was unsettled on the eve of Wednesday’s race by a 10:55 p.m. house call from an anti-doping team collecting a sample from her.
With that behind her, super-G represents the best, if not last, chance for Goergl to become the oldest women’s Olympic Alpine medalist. Her 33rd birthday is next Thursday.
Gut and Goergl won the most recent World Cup super-G races last month in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Maria Hoefl-Riesch, meanwhile, has only one super-G win in six years, though she won bronze at the 2011 worlds in her hometown of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Super-G presents different challenges from the downhill, testing skiers’ ability to adapt quickly and at speed. Unlike downhill, which has mandatory training runs on an established course, the super-G gates are set by one team’s coach the day before, and racers must assess it during an early morning race-day inspection.
Still, Hoefl-Riesch’s head coach, Thomas Stauffer, said the three-time Olympic gold medalist is among the favorites Saturday despite not mastering the Sochi speed course.
“In downhill she just didn’t put it together. She was always one second behind — in the training runs, in the combined downhill and (Wednesday) as well,” Stauffer said. “I think super-G she will do better.”
Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein is the other World Cup super-G winner this season, though she is “hoping for a miracle” to be fit after bruising her right shin in a training crash on Sunday.
Julia Mancuso must also be considered a contender to add to her American women’s Alpine record of four Winter Games medals. She also has bronze and silver medals in super-G from the past two world championships.
“I mean, I’m disappointed but I can’t go back and do it again,” Mancuso said after placing eighth in downhill. “I just want to remember it for the super-G.”