Federica Brignone in the lead, Wendy Holdener at the foot of the podium

Federica Brignone took the first Combined in Crans-Montana. The Italian outperformed Ilka Stuhec by 1''01 and the Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser by 1''16.

Second in the Super-G, the Italian from the Aosta Valley, dominated the slalom to overtake Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec , making up time in order to take first place in the discipline. The Italian lost only 0''45 to Wendy Holdener between the gates.  Wendy Holdener ends up disappointed, in a far-from-easy fourth place after the Super-G. The World Champion from Schwyz, who was much too timid, left dreams of the podium behind her during the speed event: "I lost too much time in the Super-G. I was too far behind to hope for a comeback in the slalom. That’s the way it goes!”

The start of the course at 10.30 was difficult. Three girls started, and not one of them managed to complete more than ten seconds of the race on the very selective Mont Lachaux piste. Denise Feierabend even hurt herself when she fell, and her season may well be over now. The departure gate was therefore lowered, and Ilka Stuhec and Tessa Worley were allowed to start again. Michelle Gisin from Obwalden, who was runner-up to Wendy Holdener in St-Moritz, also wasn’t able to finish her race. "The weather wasn’t great”, she said. “There was fog in the morning, then rain, then snow and finally sunshine. The piste was soft. I skied too direct, and I lost it, it’s a shame. But I really hope that Denise (ed: Feierabend) is OK."

The youngest of the Gisin family didn’t want to blame the course or the piste, observations and course conditions that the Americans Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn had no hesitation in criticizing when they withdrew from the race. But as those who are absent are always wrong, Federica Brignone made the most of the situation to claim her fourth World Cup victory, her first in the Combined. Winner of the Giant in Kronplatz in January, the Italian from the Aosta Valley couldn’t believe it at the finish line: “To be honest, I managed a good Super-G, but I didn’t think I’d end up in the lead like this. It looks like I’m back in the Combined ranking, I didn’t even know! “ World Junior Combined Champion in 2009, Federica Brignone held her own, managing to distance Ilka Stuhec on a slope which was undoubtedly too steep for the Slovenian. But thanks to her second place, the athlete from the Maribor Club, takes third place overall, and strengthens her position as leader in the Combined with 180 points out of a possible 200. Suffice to say that Sunday’s Combined will be decisive in determining the first place.

Photos: DEPREZphoto SA, Crans-Montana/Agence Zoom

Brignone2 Stuhec Kirchgasser3
1st Federica Brignone ITA 2nd Ilka Stuhec SLO

3rd Michaela Kirchgasser  AUT

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