We are returning to Italy, more specifically to Val Gardena, where women will compete in Downhill and Super-G events on 18th and 19th of December. These two events will take place as substitutes for Val d’Isere Downhill and Super-G, as they were both cancelled due to lack of snow. Looking at the last event of the season for women, we saw Parallel Slalom taking place on 9th of December in St. Moritz. In that race, it was Mikaela Shiffrin who won her 3rd consecutive race and 5th race this season. At the 2nd place stood Petra Vlhova and Wendy Holdener at 3rd. The last Downhill event of the season took place in Lake Louise (30th November and 1st December). In the first event in Lake Louise, Nicole Schmidhofer won with a 0.15s faster time than 2nd placed Michelle Gisin and 0.50s in front of 3rd placed Kira Weidle. In the second event in Lake Louise, it was again Nicole Schmidhofer who finished first. She was 0.44s faster than 2nd placed Cornelia Huetter and 0.47s faster than Michelle Gisin. Those 2 were the first 2 wins for Nicole Schmidhofer and her 5th and 6th podium finishes in her career. Because Val Gardena is not a regular stop for women, we do not have any results from last season, nor the season before, but what we do have is training reports.
On 17th of December, we saw 2 Downhill runs. The first training run saw Ramona Siebhofer finishing 0.02s in front of Ilka Stuhec and 0.37s in front of 3rd placed Nicol Delago. In the second training run. Ester Ledecka won with 0.40s faster time than Nicol Delago. At third place, the winner of the last 2 Downhill races, Nicole Schmidhofer finished 0.43s behind Ledecka. The athletes already tested the sky slope and are getting for the big day on 18th of December, and now it’s our job to figure out which athlete will perform the best in the 1st women Downhill in Val Gardena.
Of course, we must start with Nicole Schmidhofer. After 4 podium finishes in her career and no wins in the World Cup, Nicole Schmidhofer managed to win 2 consecutive Downhill races in Lake Louise. This can mean she can become the 3rd woman (alongside Ilka Stuhec and Lindsey Vonn) who won first 3 World Cup Downhill races of the season. In addition, winning 3 downhill races in a season is a big accomplishment, as only 3 women athletes managed to win 3 or more downhill races per season in the last 11 years. The last Austrian woman to win 3 downhill races in one season was Renate Götschl in 2006/7.
Ilka Stuhec’s return to the ski slopes did not yet result in a podium finish this season. The 2016/17 Downhill and Alpine Combined champion, as well as 2nd Overall woman, skipped last season due to her injury and is now back ready to start performing on the level she did in 2016/17. In 2016/17 season, she won both Downhill races in Lake Louise, however, finished only 6th (+0.94) and 14th (+1.60). As of now, she has 4 World Cup Downhill wins, which is just as many as now-retired Tina Maze.
Michelle Gisin finished on the podium in both of the first 2 Downhill races this season. In the first event, Gisin finished 2nd (+0.15), and 3rd in the second race (+0.47). With those 2 podium finishes, she now has 3 podium finishes in her career, however, she has not yet won a World Cup race. Last season, Gisin finished 6th in the Downhill standings, which is a good result, being that that was her 2nd season competing in the Downhill.
Currently leading woman in the overall, Super-G and Slalom standings, Mikaela Shiffrin has stood on the podium in all disciplines this season, except in Downhill events. In Lake Louise, she finished 9th (+1.23) and 4th (+0.63). Despite her dominance in Slalom and Giant Slalom races, she has only won 1 Downhill race in her career, in Lake Louise last season. We, however, won’t be seeing her in Val Gardena, as she will skip the races to focus on training for Courchevel technical events (Giant Slalom and Slalom on 21st and 22nd December).
No picks, as there are currently no odds on Pinnacle or Bet365. We try to post tips at least one hour before the match.