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Olympic champion Sofia Goggia wins first downhill of post-Vonn era

AP

Olympic champion Sofia Goggia won the first World Cup downhill of the post-Lindsey Vonn era on Saturday.

Goggia was rewarded with her first victory this season after taking an aggressively direct racing line typical of Vonn, the American star who retired after winning downhill bronze in the world championships two weeks ago at Are, Sweden.

World champion Ilka Stuhec crashed as the first starter Saturday, leaving Goggia favored to win.

The Italian racer was 0.49 seconds faster than Joana Haehlen of Switzerland on the sun-bathed 2.45-km Mont Lachaux course.

Nicole Schmidhofer extended her lead in the downhill standings by placing third, 0.52 behind Goggia.

The result had little impact on the overall World Cup standings with runaway leader Mikaela Shiffrin skipping two weekends of races, in Switzerland and Russia, to rest after the world championships.

Goggia won the season-long downhill title last year, but was sidelined this season by an ankle injury until returning one month ago.

Her first downhill win since the gold-medal run at the Pyeongchang Winter Games was the fourth of her World Cup career in the fastest discipline. Vonn counted 43 downhills in her women’s record 82 World Cup race wins.

Stuhec, who retained her world title, lost balance landing a jump and was twisted in midair then slid into safety nets. She seemed to avoid serious injury and skied down to the finish area.

A helicopter carried Tiffany Gauthier from the course after the French racer appeared to injure her left knee before skiing to a stop.

The race was also interrupted three times to repair the finish-line timing system. The clock failed to stop after three of the first 12 starters completed their run. Each malfunction affected a Swiss skier — including Haehlen — and provoked some jeers from home fans.

“It’s a bit bizarre, to arrive and there’s not a time,” said Lara Gut-Behrami, who skied into third place before the next starter Goggia edged her off the podium.

An Alpine combined event is scheduled Sunday at Crans-Montana, which is a candidate to host the 2025 worlds.