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Switzerland: Pre-Season notes

Swiss cow

Switzerland’s WAWC Equipe is, IMO, equal to Italy’s for the sport’s strongest roster. Required to choose based upon the top 3-Discipline trios’ recent results, I’d give Italy the edge—Bassino, Brignone, Goggia over Gisin, Gut-Behrami, Holdener. A team comprised of those six would rule until asparagus mutated into outboard motors.

Adding Suter, Haehlen, Flury gives the Swiss a superb overall front line.

Michelle Gisin. See the June Feature “Fixin’ For A Rampage!” for her profile.

Lara Gut-Behrami

Lara Gut-Behrami is WAWC’s current late-career master, and she wants forty victories. Now with 37, five more ties her with Anja Parson for 6th All-Time. Snagging 43, or 47 to succeed Renate Gotschl for career fifth position would be sweet. Lara’s 19 SG wins is comfortably 2nd All-Time—and Vonn’s 28a keenly ambitious goal requiring at least two extraordinary late-career seasons. I think Lara can win 24 SGs but younger folks will halt her short of 28.

LG-B’s my automatic pick for 2024 EOS 2nd Overall. Re Disciplines, repeat SG 1st. 2023 GS 2nd for career best, as DH slacked a bit but still excellent at 7th. I’ll call Gut-Behrami GS T4 and DH T6.

2021-2023 Overall and Discipline rankings

2023 Overall 2nd

DH 7th – 9 starts – 3d; 3xT8; 3xT13; 18th; 21st.

SG 1st – 8 starts – 2x1st; 2x3d; 4th; 8th; 20th; DNF. Takes SG title by 45 pts. despite 20th & DNF.

GS 2nd – 10 starts – 1st; 2x2nd; 3d; 4th; 2x5th; 2x7th; DNF

2022 Overall 11th – Covid and flu; missed about 1/3 of the WAWC schedule.

DH 15th – 7 starts – 1st; 5th; 9th; 2xT19; 23d; DNF

SG 6th – 7 starts – 1st; 2nd; 3d; 10th; 13th; 2xDNF

GS 13th – 3 starts – 2nd; 5th; 9th

2021 Overall 2nd

DH 3d – 7 starts – 2x1st; 2nd; 2x8th; 11th; 16th

SG 1st – 6 starts – 4x1st; 2nd; 5th Not too shabby…

GS 7th – 8 starts – 2nd; 4th; 7th; 2x8th; 2x9th; DNF

Repeating Overall 2nd’s gonna be tough. If Fede, Marta, and Petra improve their DH; Ragnhild and Michelle also threats with full on-form campaigns. Lara’s so technically solid/consistent, I just have to go with her.

Lara’s one of the all-time WAWC greats, a connected professional who’s generated/endured enough public-eye bullshit to collapse a weaker being. To be accurate, she’s prompted a fair amount of it herself. Gut-Behrami speaks her mind—more subtly than say Goggia does, but certainly more biting. She has cool confidence. Mild arrogance with no tacky swagger. (Also, she doesn’t spray champagne on the podium.) And she smiles often. I sense win or lose Lara’s on her own elevated plane and usually enjoys the view.

Corinne Suter

Corinne’s Speed brilliance is unexpressed by her five career victories. IMO, on-form and dialed in, no Downhiller is better, and just a couple on Super G. FWICT, Suter’s not crazy, doesn’t risk it beyond that race day’s abilities. Competes “within herself,” to use the cliché. (Shiffrin does too.) A few are talented enough to do so and be consistently Top-5. The rest push it and occasionally win or place well…and occasionally crash badly. Corinne’s taken a few spills, but no surgeon’s sliced—her ACLs are untorn; bone contusions on both shins training September 2021 but tibs/fibs have escaped serious abuse.

Suter will be 29 all season, right in her prime. Reclaiming recent form should propel her to 2024EOS Overall T7/8; DH T2/3; SG T4. This Overall is a stretch for a two-Discipline contestant; two Speed podiums may do it. She was Overall 4th in 2020 with both Speed globes, when the shortened season probably aided Overall rank.

Last three WAWC seasons:

2023 Overall 12th

DH 3d – 8 starts – 2nd; 3x3d; 13th; 14th; 20th; DNF. (Wild header at Cortina; DNS DH next day.)

SG 6th – 7 starts – 1st; 4th; 9th; 10th; 12th; 2x15th. Should be T10 every race.

GS 47th – 2 starts – 28th; DNQ. Season’s third GS. Maybe comfortable on this track? Only GS entry.

2022 Overall 9th

DH 2nd – 9 starts – 1st; 3d; 2x4th; 3xT7; 10th; 19th. Solid/excellent except for final meet.

SG 8th – 9 starts – 2nd; 5th; 2x6th; 8th; 17th; 20th; 21st; 26th. Wildly inconsistent.

GS 45th – 3 starts – 23d; 26th; DNQ.

2021 Overall 8th

DH 2nd – 7 starts – 1st; 2x2nd; 3d; 6th; 8th; 14th. Excellent! 14th followed by 8th next day.

SG 3d – 6 starts – 2nd; 2x3d; 5th; 7th; 9th. Kicked it. Final 2xSG cancelled by weather.

GS 30th – 7 starts – 14th; 20th; 27th; 2xDNF; 2xDNQ. A quixotic venture, I’m afraid.

Why is she messing with GS? If she digs the competition, fine, and the marginal points help Overall. But it consumes energy; increases risk. IIWHC, I’d drop it. But I’m not her coach, and maybe 3-Discipline to gun for Overall is feasible. We’ll see.

Wendy Holdener

Wendy’s a warm, friendly spirit; a low-key serious professional, I suspect she’s the Swiss team’s anchor. And with 269 WAWC starts, one of her sport’s most experienced stars. Perhaps obscured/underappreciated, I think, amidst the frenzy early last season over her first WAWC career wins after 40+ podiums, is her outstanding Overall record: 6xT10 since 2016, including 2nd in 2018, and 3d in 2019. Known primarily as a brilliant SL racer—EOS SL T5 every year since 2016, including 2x2nd and 3x3d—she’s also had some solid GS rankings (3xT8 2018-2020) and persists at SG. She’ll be 30 all season 2024. It seems like she’s been around forever, but she’s right in her prime.

2021-2023 rankings

2023 Overall 7th

SL 2nd – 11 starts – 2x1st; 2x2nd; 3d; 2x4th; 3x5th; DNQ. Exceptional! DNQ odd.

GS 17th – 8 starts – 10th; 4xT15; 16th; 2x23d. Decent. Was much sharper 3 previous seasons. (WH?)

SG 24th – 5 starts – 8th; 14th; 17th; 2x21st. I suspect runs tracks she’s comfortable on. Fine results.

2022 Overall 14th

SL 5th – 8 starts – 2nd; 3d; 2x4th; 5th; 2x7th; DNF.

GS 25d – 7 starts – 8th; 3xT18; 23d; 2xDNF.

SG 25d – 4 starts – 7th; 11th; 22nd; 24th.

2021 Overall 10th

SL 5th – 8 starts – 3x3d; 3x4th; 5th; 6th.

GS 22nd – 7 starts – 8th; 16th; 21st; 26th; 3xDNF. Arghh.

SG 27th – 3 starts – 9th; 14th; DNF.

Actually, each of her SG meets are in different venues, except for twice in St. Moritz. So she’ll rip it anywhere. Probably goes by how she feels that day. Admirable versatility. GS DNFs only blemish.

I wonder if, with probably 3 or 4 seasons remaining, Holdener will drop SG. The record certainly doesn’t portend that—she’s run 3 Disciplines nine years running. (And was superb in Alpine Combined 2015-2020.) Wendy’s got decent Speed chops, no question. IIWHC I’d recommend Tech exclusively from here on out, to keep in top shape for 2025 Worlds and for Cortina Olympics. (I’m sure she wants these marquee events. 2017 Worlds AC 1st and SL 2nd; 2018 & 2022 Olympics SL 2nd & SL 3d. A fine record. I bet at least she wants another crack at a Worlds SL 1st, and Cortina will be almost impossible for any eligible winter sports athlete to willingly miss.)

As for prediction: SL 3d; GS T15 with no DNFs; SG T25, if she competes. I think Petra’s gonna be back with a vengeance to challenge Mikaela; in top form she will take Wendy. These three were their own SL caste by 137 points over EOS 4th last season. If Liensberger returns to top form, she could threaten, as could a few others. But the Shiffrin, Vlhova, Holdener triumvirate is in command for another season, IMO.

Jasmine Flury

For me, Jasmine Flury is an intriguing racer to watch for the 2024 season. A Speed specialist with seven WAWC campaigns under her boots, EOS DH best 13th and SG 10th, and middling regular season results at best, she won 2023’s World Championship DH by 0.04 over Nina Ortlieb. Flury’s Worlds meet expressed her modest results as well: SG 22nd the day before DH triumph.

The DH run was beautiful—aggressive, clean, confident. From bib 2, Jasmine held off the Big People, including her close pal Corinne Suter, who finished third by 0.12. Worlds gold certainly helped Jasmine to score a new ride on Kastle, a brand which now has Stuhec and Ledecka on its roster. Changing gear can portend frustrating adjustments well after summer training’s set-up research is complete. (Ask Michelle Gisin.) Flury’s 30; now’s the time to flush out and harness that Worlds form.

2023 Overall 28th

DH 15th- 9 starts – 4th; 2x10th; 2xT15; 3xT20; 23d. Fair rankings; no DNFs. Good job on that.

SG 16th- 8 starts – 6th; 10th; 3xT13; 19th; 20th; DNF.

2022 Overall 26th

DH 17th- 9 starts – 2nd; 2x9th; 15th; 4xT25; 37th. Extreme finish range.

SG 15th- 9 starts – 7th; 9th; 10th; 2x11th; 19th; 2x22nd; 27th.

2021 Overall 35th

DH 13th- 7 starts – 5th; 8th; 3x14th; 19th; 20th.

SG 32nd- 6 starts – 19th; 20th; 21st; 29th; 2xDNF.

Talk about all over the map. Flury’s formidable skill pops and wanes, subsiding too long for top results. She’s made 109 WC starts to 98 EC starts—major EC vertical shows she needed to solidify her racing on the junior circuit before tackling WAWC. (As do many WC racers, Jasmine’s still runs a few EC races in-season to sharpen up/get extra Discipline practice.)

If Jasmine Flury’s going to have a breakout season, it’s gotta be within a year or two, almost definitely. Without knowing how her summer’s gone, foreseeing significant improvement’s guesswork. I think she’ll be EOS DH T12; a few T5s, 2xpodium, and no DNFs would put her T10. I’ll say EOS SG T12 as well. So modest improvement through consistently achieving strongest historical results. Of course, at least T15 every race complemented with several T5s and she’s probably EOS Tech T10. Given past results, that probably won’t happen, but would be great if it did. ( ‘ – ‘ ) How’s that for keen analysis? (I feel really out to sea evaluating racers who abruptly smoke the Big People then revert to T15 territory. Gotta go with the numbers; clock doesn’t lie, etc.)

Joana Haehlen

WAWC Speed stalwart for eight seasons. Sparky, aggressive competitor. ACL tear during 2014 training. Turns 32 in January. Consistently respectable EOS DH/SG rankings; enigmatic as she rips some excellent races, but too many 20th+ finishes to crack EOS T10. Her gutsy SG 2ndat St. Anton on a gnarly, fast icy track shows her strength and technical skill under trying conditions.

2021-2023 WAWC Speed results

2023 EOS DH 13th 9 starts – 4th; 5th; 2x9th; 3xT16; 2x25th. SG 13th 8 starts – 2nd; 3xT15; 2xT20; 25th; DNF.

2022 EOS DH 13th 9 starts – 2nd; 3xT9; 14th; 2xT25; 28th; DNF. SG 18th 8 starts – 2xT9; 4xT15; 18th; 26th.

2021 EOS DH 26th 7 starts – 3xT20; 2x22nd; 2xDNF. SG 21st 6 starts – 11th; 2xT20; 3xT30.

2022 Olympics DH 6th. Excellent!

Joana finishes races: just two DNFs in last two seasons’ 34 Speed starts. Improving DH 5x20th+ and SG 4x20th+ to T18 or so would very likely put her EOS Speed T10. (In 2023, 9 points separated her EOS DH 13th from Nina Ortlieb’s 9th. 25 more SG points would have gotten her EOS 10th.) I think Haehlen will EOS DH T10 and SG T10/12. She’s so fit and experienced—with young people gunning for A-team spots, and probably 2-3 WAWC seasons left in her tank, I think Joana will have her best year ever, by a good margin.


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