19-20 January 2019
Olympia delle Tofane - Cortina d'Ampezzo

Four champions but only two places as Queen

Schmidhofer, Stuhec, Vonn and possibly Goggia expected to dominate the races in Cortina on 19 and 20 January

 

Date: 02/01/2019 from 1500
Place: Cortina d'Ampezzo

(by Max Vergani)

The countdown has begun for the Ladies’ Alpine Ski World Cup races in Cortina d'Ampezzo, scheduled for 19 and 20 January 2019. For the twenty-seventh consecutive year, the “Pink Circus” will crown the queen of Olympia delle Tofane, following in the footsteps of the great champions who have earned this title over the years. The first event will be the downhill, followed by the superG on day two.

With the first speed races already under their belts, the competition begins to heat up in Cortina as the names of the athletes who are most likely to dominate the main titles of 2019 - the World Championships in Åre, Sweden and the World Cup finals in March 2019 - begin to emerge.

The first stage of the ladies’ speed races saw the spectacular double victory of Nicole Schmidhofer, who clinched first place in the two downhills in Lake Louise, Canada. For Schmidhofer, 29 from Friesach in Carinthia, these were her first World Cup wins, even though she is actually the reigning super G world champion. This year the Austrian athlete looked in particularly good shape from the get-go and will be one of the favourites to beat in Cortina. But another athlete has already caught the eye of fans and the media. It is the 28-year-old Slovenian Ilka Stuhec, winner of the downhill and super G in Val Gardena, which hosted the women’s event for the first time after the races were cancelled in Val d'Isère the previous week. With this double victory, the Slovenian athlete rejoined the top ranks of the skiing champions, making her return after an injury last season but already giving her many fans, who love this great athlete who always has a smile on her face, reason to hope for great things. Stuhec is currently the reigning downhill world champion: another outstanding athlete who will do her very best to dominate the Olympia course, as she did in the super G in 2017, just before setting out for St. Moritz where she won gold in the downhill at the World Championships.

Emotions are running high for the two international skiing stars who earned the top rankings on Olympia last year: Lindsey Vonn and Sofia Goggia. Lindsey is one of the all-time legends of Olympia, thanks to her 12 career wins on the Cortina slope, equally divided between the downhill and super G. The American champion has already announced that this will be her last World Cup season, although she added that she will be competing in Lake Louise next December because she had to pull out of the event this year due to a minor knee injury. Vonn is particularly fond of Cortina, not just because of her wins here, but because it was here in 2016 that she became the most successful downhill racer of all time: one of the many records of this super champion who has her sights on the record of World Cup victories, held by Ingemar Stenmark with 86 wins. Vonn currently stands at 82 and victory in Cortina could give her another push in the right direction, bringing her within reach of the Swedish legend. What better way of returning to racing for the American star, who has not yet made her mark on this year’s circuit?

Sofia Goggia also missed the first part of the season after fracturing her right ankle during training in Hintertux just a couple of days before the season opener in Soelden. Last year the champion from Bergamo won the downhill in Cortina, the last one before the Olympics in PyeongChang where she entered the history books by being the first Italian female skier to win gold in this discipline. As we go to press, Goggia will be back on her skis and the world of sport is eagerly waiting to see if she will choose Cortina for her return to competitive racing. There is a good chance she will, although the athlete from the Fiamme Gialle team will have to regain her confidence with speed because the Olympia course is one of the fastest on the whole circuit.

Four great athletes but only two chances to earn the title of Queen of Olympia, a title earned by champions who make their mark on the highly technical course in Cortina. We’ll have to wait until Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 January to find out who they will be.

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