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Olympic champion Goggia gets 1st downhill win in 22 months

December 19, 2020 GMT
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Italy's Sofia Goggia gets to the finish area after completing an alpine ski, women's World Cup downhill, in Val d'Isere, France, Saturday, Dec.19, 2020. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)
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Italy's Sofia Goggia gets to the finish area after completing an alpine ski, women's World Cup downhill, in Val d'Isere, France, Saturday, Dec.19, 2020. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) — Sofia Goggia had a gutsy run to win a women’s World Cup downhill on Saturday for her first victory in the discipline in almost two years.

A day after finishing runner-up to Corinne Suter in a race on the same hill, the Olympic champion from Italy turned the tables and beat the Swiss World Cup downhill champion by 0.24 seconds.

Coming into this weekend, Goggia had not been on a downhill podium since winning in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in February 2019.

Still, the Italian called her run “not so perfect.”

“I think I could push more in some parts. I came down and I thought, ‘this was not enough to win,’” said Goggia, who led Suter in Friday’s race until she was slowed by a mistake.

“Yesterday, I really had an attacking behavior and it was really more like wild skiing,” Goggia said. “I have to find a balance: same attacking style like yesterday, same technical skills like today.”

It was Goggia’s eighth career win, a year after her previous World Cup triumph in a super-G in Crans Montana, Switzerland. A few weeks later, she had to cut her season short after fracturing her left arm in a crash.

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Breezy Johnson, who had her first career podium result on Friday, was 0.27 seconds back for another third-place finish.

After all favorites were down, unheralded Norwegian skier Kajsa Vickhoff Lie, wearing bib 30, came close to bumping Johnson off the podium, but ultimately trailed the American by six hundredths in fourth.

Johnson said her run felt like “a bumpy ride.”

“I was definitely happy to just be in the finish in one piece,” said the American, who scored her previous career best in February 2018, coming fourth in a downhill in Germany.

Over the past two seasons, she was slowed as she had to work her way back from two severe knee injuries.

“I am just trying to seize every moment and seize every day,” Johnson said. “These podiums have been coming on for a while, so I definitely had the goal to win a World Cup, go for a world championship medal this year. I think this is just the beginning.”

Many racers, including two-time world champion Ilka Stuhec, posted faster split times in the flat opening section, but no one matched Goggia’s pace in the steep part, where the Italian excelled with risky turns.

Organizers had slightly adapted a tricky curve toward the end of the course that caused four racers to crash into the safety netting in Friday’s race.

Austria’s Nicole Schmidhofer suffered a potentially season-ending left knee injury, while two other racers who cashed — defending overall champion Federica Brignone and Alice McKennis Duran of the United States — opted not to start on Saturday.

A super-G on the same hill is scheduled for Sunday.

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