Lara Gut-Behrami races to super-G gold as Mikaela Shiffrin regains confidence

Gold medallist Lara Gut-Behrami of Team Switzerland (C), Silver medallist Mirjam Puchner of Team Austria (L), and Bronze medalist Michelle Gisin of Team Switzerland. Alpine Skiing - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 7
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Reigning world champion Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland broke through for her first Olympic gold medal on Friday in Beijing, winning the women’s alpine skiing super-G while Mikaela Shiffrin finished ninth at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Gut-Behrami, a three-time women’s super-G World Cup season champion, became the first alpine racer from Switzerland to ever win an Olympic super-G gold, recording a winning time of 1:13.51, 0.22 ahead of silver medalist Mirjam Puchner of Austria and 0.30 in front of Michelle Gisin, also from Switzerland.

“I’ve been hoping I will have that feeling once in my life to win a gold medal at the Olympics. It’s always been tight and I’m just happy that today it happened,” said Gut-Behrami, who won bronze earlier this week in the women’s giant slalom and also won bronze in the 2014 women’s downhill.

But after coming just missing out on the super-G podium in 2014 and 2018, the 30-year-old Swiss said she adjusted her expectations, and that appeared to make the difference.

“I didn’t give up dreaming, but I wasn’t expecting (the win) and maybe that was the key,” Gut-Behrami told NBC Olympics reporter Todd Lewis afterward. “I stopped working for it, stopped hoping for medals. I just started just skiing and realizing I have already achieved a lot. Maybe this was the key.”

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For teammate Gisin, the 28-year-old three-time Olympian, even making the Winter Olympics seemed like a longshot just last summer when she lost a good chunk of her offseason training due to mononucleosis. She remembers being so weak at one point that she couldn’t climb the stairs.

“I watched the (Tokyo) Olympics and that was what kept me sane,” said Gisin, whose sister Dominique Gisin tied for downhill gold at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and older brother Marc competed in the 2018 Olympics. “All the emotions gave me so much and I was thinking maybe I can make it back in time. I (thought), ‘I really hope this illness ends and I can make it back in time to be at the Olympics again myself.’ It’s just way too beautiful that it all worked out.”

Puchner said she was “speechless” after capturing silver in her Olympics debut. The 29-year-old Austrian thought an Olympics medal was improbable after fracturing her right tibia and fibula while training for the 2017 World Championships. She had three surgeries over a 660-day break before returning to racing.

“I never thought I could do this because super-G was always a little bit difficult for me, but today I had a good feeling,” said Puchner, whose previous career-best World Cup super-G finish was third place with two other top 10s. “For the last years it was not easy, after my injury, and (my family and friends) have always supported me, and I am so thankful about that.”

Despite finishing off the podium, Shiffrin found a lot of positives in her top-10 finish, not least of which was regaining her own trust.

“The course ran pretty similar to what I thought, and to be honest, that was quite a big relief because after the last days, sort of what I expected – not from even results – what I expected from the feeling in the course was not how it went.”

After skiing out in the giant slalom and slalom races, Shiffrin has turned her attention to the rest of the Olympic alpine program, confirming she’ll participate in the women’s downhill training runs before deciding if she’ll compete in the DH event, and also planning for the women’s combined and team events.

As for the outpouring of support over the last few days, Shiffrin expressed her gratitude.

“I don’t feel like I deserve it,” she said. “It’s the most surprising thing of my Olympic experience – is how kind people have been in the face of my failure. It is failure, it is OK to say that, and I’m sorry for it, but I also was trying and I’m proud of that.”

Defending Olympic super-G champion Ester Ledecka of Czech Republic finished fifth. Earlier in the Games, the 26-year-old Ledecka defended her 2018 gold medal in women’s snowboarding parallel giant slalom, and she’s set to compete in two remaining Olympic alpine events, downhill and combined.

2022 Winter Olympics: Women’s Alpine Skiing Schedule – Remaining Events

Alpine Skiing Event Date / Start Time (U.S. Eastern)   Date / Start Time (Beijing)  
Women’s Downhill 2/14/22 10:00 PM 2/15/22 11:00 AM
Women’s Combined (Downhill) 2/16/22 9:30 PM 2/17/22 10:30 AM
Women’s Combined (Slalom) 2/17/22 1:00 AM 2/17/22 2:00 PM
Team Event 2/18/22 10:00 PM 2/19/22 11:00 AM

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: 2022 Winter Olympics Schedule – How to watch every women’s event