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Sofia Goggia continues win streak in Lake Louise with another downhill victory

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Sofia Goggia won her second downhill race in as many days and extended her World Cup win streak in Lake Louise, Alta., to five in a row Saturday.
Sofia Goggia, of Italy, flies down the course on her way to winning the women’s FIS World Cup downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta on Saturday December 3, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Sofia Goggia won her second downhill race in as many days and extended her World Cup win streak in Lake Louise, Alta., to five in a row Saturday.

The 30-year-old Italian swept both downhills and a super-G last year at the Alberta ski resort. Another win in Sunday's super-G would put her in rare company in women's ski racing.

The only other woman to post back-to-back hat tricks in Lake Louise was retired American ski star Lindsey Vonn in 2011 and 2012, with Vonn adding another triple in 2015. 

Vonn won 18 of her 82 World Cup victories in Lake Louise, where a "Lake Lindsey Way" run is named after her.

"These last two years are unbelievable for me," Goggia said. "While here, I broke my knee in 2013 and then I got my first podium on the speed circuit in 2016. Now winning five in a row, it's incredible."

High winds at the top of the mountain on Saturday lowered the start hut and shortened the downhill course by half a kilometre from the previous day's season-opener. Saturday's temperature was -16 C.

Goggia blitzed the bottom section of the track in sunny, breezy conditions to overtake early leader Corinne Suter of Austria.

"Today I made a quite perfect run," Goggia said. "Lowered start, a lot of wind against us, we had really to be focused and committed on our performance. I skied exactly the way I wanted to in my head."

Goggia's winning time was one minute 28.96 seconds ahead of runner-up Nina Ortlieb of Austria in 1:29.30.

After suffering catastrophic knee injuries in a training run in January, 2021, Ortlieb made her World Cup comeback in Canada.

She was sixth in Friday's first downhill and then stepped on Lake Louise's podium for the first time in her career Saturday.

"It like a big relief," Ortlieb said. "The last months were really hard and that felt so good. 

"I was also thankful for everybody who helped me to come back."

Suter was third in 1:29.33 after finishing second to Goggia in the opener.

"It was windy, but I tried my best," Suter said. "I think the technical part was pretty OK. I have to analyze a bit later."

Goggia finished second to Suter in the Olympic women's downhill in Beijing in February, but Goggia took last season's World Cup downhill title ahead of Suter.

Austria's Cornelia Huetter didn't race Saturday after finishing third in the first downhill. 

She experienced concussion symptoms stemming from a February downhill crash in Switzerland.

Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., was 25th. 

A top-30 result is desirable because that is where ranking points and prize money are, but the 33-year-old felt she battled the course instead of raced it.

"It's common for me to be not comfortable on ice and this is really icy," Gagnon said. "I know I'm so much better than what I'm clocking in right now. It's tough." 

Stefanie Fleckenstein of Whistler, B.C., was 37th. Valérie Grenier of St-Isodore, Ont., will join the Canadians in Sunday's super-G.

Goggia's World Cup win was the 19th of her career and 14th in downhill. Whether she'll be able to add to them in Lake Louise in the future is unclear.

Alpine Canada has committed only to keeping a men's speed race in Western Canada with a location still to be determined.

The introduction of women's World Cup giant slalom in Mont-Tremblant, Que., in 2023, and falling on the same traditional weekend as women's speed races in Lake Louise, is a strike against the latter retaining the only World Cup women's downhill in North America. 

"It's sad we're not going to race here, but I'm confident that FIS will find a good place to replace this event," Goggia said.

Each women's World Cup race in Lake Louise offers 120,000 Swiss francs (C$172,000) split between first to 30th on a descending scale. 

The winner earns 45,000 (C$65,000)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2022.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press