Here we are in Sölden, the first race of the season. The time to see if all the summer preparations are paying. During the "Snow Control" of the FIS, Sölden race director Markus Mayr declared: "The preparation of the track is perfect. […] These are the best conditions of the past decade". Optimal conditions were reunited today in Tyrol, to offer a great show to debute the winter sports season.
Viktoria Rebensburg, who battled for the GS crystal globe last season, injured herself earlier this month. The German racer got caught on a gate in training and suffers of a undisplaced tibial fracture on her right leg.
Lindsey Vonn, Anna Veith, Sara Hector and Taïna Barioz made the choice not to race in Sölden. The four skiers are coming back from injuries and were not ready to shred the slope yet.
Demonstration is the right word to describe the first run of Lara Gut. Despite a fault on the upper part of the track, the Swiss racer created huge margin on the wall, skiing agressively and being perfectly smooth on the so tricky flat section.
In second position is Mikaela Shiffrin. Starting with bib 16. Shiffrin drew good turning sections and kept enough speed on the low part of the track to challenge the second best time.
Promising Italian skier Marta Bassino came in third position. She showed beautiful fluidity while being agressive. From last season, we can see a real evolution in her skiing, making her an interesting skier to follow.
Federica Birgnone, who won her first ever world cup last year in Sölden, finished at the 4th place behing her teammate.
Eva-Maria Brem didn't make a huge impression on this first run. Last season GS crystal globe holder looked nervous and uncomfortable on her skis. She finished out of the top ten, at the 11th position.
Eva-Maria Brem didn't react during the second run. The Austrian skier got taken back repeatedly on the wall of the Rettenbach, making her lose speed. It is surprising to see the last season leader of the speciality end in 26th place. Federica Brignone didn't ski a great second run as well. The Italian made a huge backing on the top section before doing an interior fault. She then lost speed and couldn't compete for the victory. Brignone finally finishes at the 9th place.
Marta Bassino shew great qualities again during the second run. The 20-year-old made a fault on the upper section of the track but was so commited she nearly didn't lose any speed. The Italian skied beautifuly with a rare limpidity in Sölden. Bassino finished 3rd; her first ever world cup podium.
Contract completed for Mikaela Shiffrin. The young American skied with a full commitment to keep her second place after the first run. She realizes a great start of the season, revealing herself as one of the few to be able to challenge Lara Gut.
Impressive on her skis, Lara Gut made a huge impression today. The Swiss racer made a demonstration, skiing with a full commitment always close to the gates. She wins the Giant Slalom of Sölden with a margin of 1.44 before the second. This is a strong message sent to her opponents. Gut starts her season as she ended the last one: in a bang.
Lara Gut wins the Giant Slalom of Sölden 1.44 seconds ahead of Mikaela Shiffrin and 1.93 seconds ahead of Martino Bassino, who signs her first ever world cup podium.
The Ladies' World Cup continues on November 12th in Levi with a Slalom.