Canada’s Marie-Michele Gagnon stood on alpine skiing’s World Cup podium for the first time in nearly five years with a bronze medal, while Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami won her third straight super-G Saturday.
A week after winning her home race in Crans-Montana, Gut-Behrami edged runner-up Kajsa Vickhoff Lie of Norway by just under seven-tenths of a second.
Gagnon was .93 back of Gut-Behrami for her first medal in a speed discipline.
Gagnon won a pair of alpine combined events and twice finished third in slalom during her career, but the 31-year-old from Lac-Etchemin, Que., shifted to racing downhill and super-G in 2017.
Starting 29th, the Canadian knocked Italy’s Soffia Goggia, holding down third spot, off the podium
“I was very surprised, but I had a good feeling all day,” Gagnon said. “The snow conditions allowed for a good result from the back and I could attack the whole course.”
Gagnon’s last World Cup podium was a super-combined victory in Soldeu, Andorra in February 2016.
Gut-Behrami claimed her 29th career victory and 15th in super-G. Only Lindsey Vonn (28), Renate Götschl (17) and Katja Seizinger (16) have won more races in the discipline.
Overall leader Petra Vlhova of Slovakia finished 10th and saw her advantage over Gut-Behrami in the overall season standings reduced to 62 points.
Gut-Behrami was seven-hundredths of a second behind Lie at the first split but charged down the Kandahar course, sticking to the ideal race line in a clean run.
“A few months ago, people asked me if I was still able to win a race at all. Now people start talking about the (overall) World Cup. It shows how fast things can change in sport,” said Gut-Behrami, who had not won a race between 2018 and 2020.
“For me it’s important that I keep my level of skiing, that I can be fast like today and enjoy it.”
The race was initially scheduled as a downhill, but bad weather wiped out both training sessions this week.
A downhill race can only take place after the athletes had at least one training run on the course. Another super-G is scheduled for Sunday.
Several racers sat out Germany’s World Cup to prepare for the world championship Feb. 8-21 in Cortina d’Ampezzo Italy, most notably Mikaela Shiffrin and Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin.
Shiffrin, who won the super-G world title in 2019, has not competed in a speed race for over a year. She had a 10-month break from racing in 2020 and only just resumed training in super-G.
Gagnon’s career best world championship result was finishing sixth in alpine combined in 2017 in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
“It’s great to be confident going into world champs,” Gagnon said. “It gives you a 10 per cent edge over the competition. I just have to ski the skis. I’m really excited for Cortina.”