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Solden GS: Same as the old boss


SOLDEN GS  28 October – Meet 1


Lara Gut-Behrami - Solden GS run 2


    The cream’s at the top, but before the obvious:

    WTFG Paula! 28th after first run –  1:12:12; 3.35 behind Fede.

    SMOKED 2nd run! 1.09.49; Gut-Behrami 1:09:44 only one faster on 2nd leg. Considering circumstance as well as speed, must be best single run of Moltzan’s WAWC career. Absolutely superb! 11th place, shared with Ana Bucik. Big names dropped positions on the second run. Rutted track didn’t help those later starters. But so what. They didn’t cut it and Paula did.

    What this shows IMO is that though Paula’s 2nd run was lights out and she can’t rely upon doing that every race, her first run was way under par. A fine EOS GS 11th last season, she’s beginning 2024 with that as a bench mark. My GS opinion of Moltzan in July Tech Feature “Three In Their Prime”: “EOS 9th may be doable. Holding 11th would be good work.” Averaging a barely qualifying run plus an amazing run shows her ability is currently…around 11th. Way solid.

    Next, what a bunch of hooey re Ragnhild’s DSQ for fluorinated wax. How could such wax even be at a WC venue? Shouldn’t be anywhere near a Tech’s kit. Something’s rotten in Solden. I think it’s the Commies, or people who steal ceramic ducks.

    Mowinckel’s 1st run 1:09:90 was good for 6th place. So this definitely hurt points-wise as well as emotionally, not to mention any cruel questioning of her/her team’s sportsmanship. There better be a thorough follow-up explanation. Totally bogus. Poor kid. (Since announced a waxing “tool” used in Ragnhild’s skis’ prep caused the fluorine contamination.)

    So, Lara Gut-Behrami’s as good as ever. What an outstanding race, stylish and consistent: 1st run 4th place; 2nd run 1st. Of the Big People, only Petra 3d both runs and Marta 7th and 8th for 5th overall ran tighter pairs of runs. Insouciantly hanging away from the leader’s chair, LG-B had everyone’s attention after her second run. And rightly so. She knew she nailed it. Zipped the piste—as zipping down it, and zipping it shut. Lara carried so much speed into the track’s final quarter/third, owing to technical perfection down the main pitch. At least that’s what I can tell. What a pro.

    Fede’s phenomenal. I still can’t figure out how her excellence somehow seems low-key/subtle, at least to me. As I’ve noted, she performs—technically solid but with flair; neither skirting the edge nor dialed in tight. She’s really strong and confident. A natural, I guess. One of the primary Big People. WAWC will suffer when Brignone retires, but no way that’ll happen before April 2026. She wants more Worlds and Olympic hardware.

    Petra. Where dost thou stand re Speed? Vlhova’s one of WAWC’s coolest, most distinguished competitors, at her best Mikaela’s closest Tech rival. Great to see her cop 3d place, with 2x3d runs. She seems happy. She’s sticking with Rossignol; I bet other brands offered her massive incentives to jump ship, but she knows what works for her. I just don’t see her settling for a Tech legacy. She has Speed chops: 2021 EOS SG 8th; DH 12th. Turning 29 next June, Petra’s beginning her prime years—she can definitely challenge Her Highness for Overall. Not sure how decisively, when it comes to the short strokes, but shadowing Mikaela on Tech and pulling off a few heroic Speed finishes would keep her within range. Alas, she knows Overall second is for her and for Lara and Fede to tussle over. (Unless…Shiffrin has an off year. If she’s on auto-pilot following the WC victory record’s incessant spotlight. I don’t think MS will lose attention, but if the wild publicity ever affects her, it’ll do so this season.) I want Petra to go double whole hog this year.


Federica Brignone - Solden GS run 2


Interesting competitor I haven’t yet covered

GASIENICA-DANIEL Maryna – Consistently strong GS player. 2022 EOS 9th; 2023 13th. 2022 featured 6xT10 from 7 finishes. 16th & 14th at Solden for 13th place. GS 8th at Beijing; 6th at 2021 Worlds; a handful of European Cup wins;

 

Why didn’t META HROVAT start? Couldn’t find anything on-line nor her IG. What’s up?

 

Several on my primary radar:

Important comeback seasons

MICHELLE GISIN – 10th & 26th to finish 19th. Dang. Lowest finisher of 1st run T10.

KATHARINA LIENSBERGER– 17th & 23d to finish 23d. Urghh. Levi SL will give better idea if Katy’s regaining her skill.

STEPHANIE BRUNNER – I didn’t give Stephanie pre-season attention; so many Austrians, and I picked Gallhuber over her, basically. Was a strong GS runner (2018 EOS 6th; 2019 8th). Suffered three knee injuries between March 2018 and August 2020, and basically fighting back up/down since. Turning 30 in February, 14th is a respectable start. 15th and 18th consistent, middle of the pack. I suspect EOS GS T15 would be a good 2024 for Brunner, with a few more years to try and regain T10 form. Best EOS SL 21st 2018, so GS her only competitive event.

    An archetypal strong racer whose fate hinged upon health, as every athlete’s fortunes essentially do. No other pursuit is so dependent upon razor-thin margins and upon luck—for competitive advancement and for continued physical existence within the profession. Hanging your future upon health when your job defies safety requires major nads. Confidence isn’t half of it.

 

Young people on the move

ALICE ROBINSON – 2x12th to finish 9th. Not a bad start. Times didn’t set the world ablaze but they were consistent; many big names had horrid 2nd descents.

Franzi Gritsch – 6th & 30th to finish 10th. Superb 1st run! Lost it on the 2nd. Ability probably in-between: T12/15. Excellent season beginning rank.

CAMILLE RAST – 21st & 22nd to finish 29th. At least made some points…2. She’s 24 so still building up.

Two Speed stars looking for GS points for Overall hunt

SOFIA GOGGIA – 19th & 12th to finish 16th. Sofie ripped it! Hanging in GS T14/17 for season will place her well for EOS T6/8, maybe better.

CORINNE SUTER – DNQ 39th 1st run. At best, give GS two or three more shots, and if no T25—certainly if no points—then hang it up. Too much effort for no reward…unless she enjoys the racing for its own sake, and/or there’s behind the scenes compensation for making the starts.

(Peacock TV’s BOGUS no repeat policy prevents me from seeing Corinne’s first run, as I was asleep for early Saturday work during race. I guess Austria's TV/ski federation rules are very possesive/restrictive.)

Big People/strong competitors who flubbed 2nd run

SARA HECTOR  2nd & 23d for 4th; Mikaela Shiffrin 5th & 25th & for 6th. Two GS Rulers suddenly way off their games. Odd, but excellent finishes and they’ll be fine ITLR.

TRUPPE Katharina 13th & 28th for 24th. Stronger in SL; but should’ve held within 5 places 2nd run, I’d think. Definitely has the talent and experience.

STJERNESUND Thea Louise 11th & 29th for 27nd. Ditto.

Good job second run, especially youngsters

LJUTIC Zrinka 25th & 6th for 14th. Really nice, kid. Strong first kick.

MEILLARD Melanie 29th & 5th for 17th. Yeowzer. Maturing (25); obviously can lay it down.

KAPPAURER Elisabeth  26th & 7th for 18th. Who is she? Mea culpa. Better check. Wild 2nd run.

Clara Direz 30th & 4th for 20th. WOW! And hard to believe that 2nd run didn’t get her a better final rank. Fantastic run for racer mired in T30+ land—maybe will put together a decent season.

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Surprising DNQs

COLTURI Lara  I guess more of a SL talent, but high-profile kid expected to do well. (I’m very sympathetic for 1st race, aren’t I?)

AICHER Emma  Big expectations; 19 years old. Cut the kid some slack. Suspect Speed will be her thing.

SLOKAR Andreja   Definite SL person. With Meta DNS, Bucik’s fine 11th Slovenia’s sole finish.

HURT A.J.  Too bad for A.J. and for US Team. She’s young but needs to begin ramping up and scoring points.

CURTONI Elena  A symbolic GS start. (Only 1 GS T10 in career.) I’m guessing since next race is so far off, Speeders and other marginal GS folks ran Solden to ease early-season nerves? Teams need to have X number of starters to keep in good stead w/FIS?

Notable 1st run DNFs

Marie Teresa TVIBERG  Has several DNFs each season. Not greatest way to begin 2024—hopefully.

Raw deal via waxing tool

Ragnhild Mowinckel – DSQ for fluorinated wax discovered post run 1 inspection. (Ran 1:09.90 – would have been 6th place.) Turns out waxing tool contaminated, I guess from last season? Really inexcusable. Shitty that one of WAWC’s coolest personalities begins season thus. Ragnhild hopefully will stick around through 2026. I guess her tech didn’t reckon on a trusty tool bearing forbidden residue, though if waxer hadn’t been used since last year. Whatever, it’s a totally bogus situation for Mowinckel. 


Petra Vlhova - Solden GS run 2

 

    I’m struck by how horrid 2nd runs didn’t badly affect 1st run leaders’ final ranking, but how those with wretched 1st runs redeemed themselves with superb 2nd efforts, but not so dramatically. Looks like the margins between 2nd run results generally less than those on 1st.

Example:

SHIFFRIN Mikaela  1st run 1:09.52 (5th)    2nd run 1:10.82 (25th) = 6th overall

Moltzan Paula        1st run 1:12.12 (28th) 2nd run 1:09.49 (2nd) = 11th overall  (tied Bucik)

MS 1st run 2.60 faster than PM.  PM 2nd run 1.33 faster than MS.

Overall difference MS 2:20.34 to PM 2:21.61: 1.27

Paula gained 17 positions: 28th to 2nd. Mikaela lost 1 position: 5th to 6th.

1st run margins 1st to 5th:

2nd     0.5 behind 1st

3d     0.13 behind 2nd

4th 0.10 behind 3d

5th 0.02 behind 4th

1st 0.75 faster than 5th on 1st run

Hmm, not sure if I’m making point I thought I was, or any point at all. Let’s see.

 

2nd run margins 1st to 5th

2nd   0.05 behind 1st

3d    0.19 behind 2nd

4th   0. 08 behind 3d

5th   0.01 behind 4th

1st 0.33 faster than 5th on 2nd run

Okay, so 2nd run leaders’ margins are tighter by about 2.5 times. See if this holds twice more on widely-spaced rankings

 

1st run:

10th 1.54 behind 5th

20th 0.65 behind 10th

30th 0.63 behind 20th 

1st 3.57 faster than 30th on 1st run

 

2nd run:

10th 0.43 behind 5th

20th 0.37 behind 10th

30th 0.99 behind 20th 

1st 2.12 faster than 30th on 2nd run

 

    So my speculation that 2nd run’s tigher margins translated into less radical rankings shifts appears to make sense, I think. Except for 2nd run’s gap between 20th and 30th, all 2nd run margins are considerably less than 1st runs’.

 

    Two racers profiled in “2024 Pre-Season Tech – Three In Their Prime” finished tied for 11th place at Solden. Ana Bucik was consistent—1st run 14th; 2nd run 15th; Paula Moltzan was dramatic—1st run 28th, 2nd run 2nd.

      Valerie Grenier placed 7th at Solden, her 2023 EOS GS rank.


Paula Moltzan - Solden GS run 2

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