Corinne Suter, bib number 7, has her face concentrated in the starting gate. What does she know about the performances of the six athletes before her? Impossible to say. Three minutes ago, the American Breezy Johnson took the lead quite widely. But she made a big mistake at the top of the course, and no one doubts that it is possible to do better.
The 26-year-old from Schwyz is one of the most serious candidates for the title of world downhill champion. She is the woman to honor her major appointments: two medals in Åre in 2019 (silver in downhill, bronze in super-G), already one this week in Cortina d’Ampezzo (silver in super-G). She loves the Dolomites resort. She loves the Olympia delle Tofane, a classic track on the women’s circuit, which propels skiers to more than 135 km / h on a slope with up to 65% gradient.
She pushes on her poles, seeks speed, leads from the first intermediate time. It was expected with the fault of the current leader … But on the portions where the latter had skied well, Corinne Suter did not weaken. His passage is a recital. She crosses the finish line one world ahead: 9 tenths of a second. She does not seem to believe her eyes and even if 24 athletes have yet to pass, she probably knows it: her performance is that of a potential world champion.
Bib 8, Michelle Gisin remains in contact until the fourth split. But on the bottom, without going astray, the Obwalden woman is thrown to 5 tenths of her compatriot. Everyone then understands that Corinne Suter, as she had announced to be able to do the day before after the last training, finished in cannonball.
The Czech Esther Ledecka, with her ease as a jack-of-all-trades (she is also the snowboard world champion) quickly shatters the dream of a double stamped “Innerschweiz”. The skiers follow each other, compete with Corinne Suter at the top of the course and then find themselves relegated far in the standings. Except the German Kira Weidle, who to everyone’s surprise signs the second fastest time! There will be no speed podium for Michelle Gisin at Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Bronze for Lara Gut-Behrami
Twelve athletes are already downstairs, but there are still a lot of people upstairs. Starting with Lara Gut-Behrami, who comes forward with bib number 13. Super-G world champion two days earlier and despite the fatigue very comfortable in training on Friday, the Ticino can she realize double? It would seem good: she is 36 hundredths ahead in the first split, then in the second. More than 11 in the third. 12 to the fourth! But Corinne Suter skied so fast on the bottom … The suspense is unbearable for ten seconds which seem to last forever … And then the light turns red: Lara Gut-Behrami is third. When she discovers it on the giant screen, she smiles and seems to say: “My faith, that’s how it is!”
A glance at the start list indicates that all is not finished. There remain the Austrians Ramona Siebenhofer, Tamara Tippler, Mirjam Puchner. The Canadian Marie-Michèle Gagnon, who marked the spirits in training. And then the Slovenian Ika Stuhec! She’s been a bit off her ski boots lately, but the reigning double world champion in downhill all the same. So, on a one-day race, you never know. Except that the hundredths accumulate in red and long before she crosses the finish line, it is clear that she will not upset the podium.
Our portrait in 2020:
Competitors with less flattering pedigrees take the places of honor. And in the leader’s chair, Corinne Suter realizes little by little. There was a very promising start to his career. There was the bad luck of the wounds. In 2018, there was a sepsis that nearly cost him his career as an elite athlete. There was the rebirth, the medals in Åre, the affirmation of talent on the White Circus. And then she came to Cortina d’Ampezzo, she had a good feeling, and she became world champion.