Johnson Three-for-Three in Downhill Podiums; Wright First Points
On a sunny day with a perfect surface, Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team athlete Breezy Johnson put the hammer down, grabbing her third (third-place) podium in as many downhill races at stunning St. Anton, Austria.
Coming into Saturday, women from the U.S. had won the last two World Cup downhill events in this ski resort: Lindsey Vonn in 2007 and Alice Mckennis Duran in 2013. But, it was a pedal-to-the-metal—or shall we say “medal”—run for Italy’s Sofia Goggia with her signature, wild skiing that keeps fans on the edge of their seats and Goggia on the top of the podium. She was pushing it to the absolute limit, and no one could catch her, as she took the victory by 96 hundredths of a second. Austria’s Tamara Tippler finished just ahead of Johnson in second, while Johnson rounded out the podium in third—a mere eight hundredths off of Tippler’s pace.
Of Goggia's performance, Johnson said, “I think that Sofia’s run was incredible...she skied with a lot of courage and she sometimes isn’t so good at always pulling that off, but she did an amazing job today and skied really spectacularly. Hats off to her.”
With a bulletproof surface, blue skies, and all of the positive vibes (including a text exchange from former teammate Lindsey Vonn, who said "Try to keep St. Anton in America's hands, ok?"), Johnson sent it down the technical—though classic, true—Arlberg Kandahar Rennen downhill to ski into third—her third third-place in a row in downhill. Following the race, Johnson credited Official Training Site Copper Mountain, Colorado, for the solid prep period in November that set the speed team up for success coming into Europe.
“We struggled to get training in the spring, but our coaches worked really hard to find good training opportunities...we went to Saas-Fee (Switzerland), and then we were the only team besides the German men who went to Copper Mountain,” noted Johnson. “We worked really hard there, we had great conditions, we trained with our men’s team...and had a lot of really good training there. That was great to get full-length downhill training in November—I honestly don’t know if anyone else got that, but it was really amazing to have. I think that helped a lot in order to get ready, because you come to Val d’Isere and here (at St. Anton), and it almost feels a little bit slow.”
The Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team continues to show its depth, with first-year U.S. Ski Team member Isabella “Bella” Wright scoring her career-first World Cup points. After a competitor had a bad crash in the finish and Wright was “iced” (long hold) in the start, Wright calmed her mind and focused on the task at hand, moving from bib 45 to 27th and grabbing her first World Cup points. In the finish, she was greeted by teammates and hugs and was overcome with emotion as she shed some happy tears.
Olympian and speed veteran Laurenne Ross, who sustained back-to-back knee injuries that kept her sidelined for the entire 2019-20 season, returned to the start gate in a courageous fashion on Saturday. After watching her partner Tommy Ford’s horrific crash in Adelboden, Switzerland, just before her race, Ross found the courage to step into the World Cup start gate for the first time in a massive 704-day break. Ross finished in 39th.
Olympian Alice McKennis, who won at St. Anton in 2013 and recently broke her ankle (in Val d'Isere), said of teammate Ross, "I don't think I've ever watched a women's speed race from home, injured. But seeing her finish was worth it."
The St. Anton World Cup weekend wraps on Sunday with a super-G before the tech women head to Flachau, Austria for the classic night slalom on Tuesday.
HOW TO WATCH
Jan. 6-13, 2021
Saturday, Jan 9
8:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Giant Slalom - same-day broadcast, Adelboden, SUI, Broadcast NBCSN
Sunday, Jan. 10
4:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Slalom, run 1 - LIVE, Adelboden, SUI, Streaming Peacock
5:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women's Super-G - LIVE, St. Anton, AUT, Streaming Peacock
7:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Slalom, run 2 - LIVE, Adelboden, SUI, Broadcast Olympic Channel
7:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Slalom, run 2 - LIVE, Adelboden, SUI, Streaming Peacock
2:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's Slalom - same-day broadcast, Adelboden, SUI, Broadcast NBCSN
Tuesday, Jan. 12
12:00 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women's Slalom, run 1 - LIVE, Flachau, AUT, Streaming Peacock
2:45 p.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women's Slalom, run 2 - LIVE, Flachau, AUT, Streaming Peacock
All streams will be available via desktop as well as mobile, tablet, and connected television platforms. The NBC Sports, Peacock TV, and Olympic Channel app are available on the Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire.