Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Nicole Schmidhofer is the New Super-G Queen

Austrian Nicole Schmidhofer took Gold on the Women's Super-G during the first day of racing at the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz. With a time of 1:21.24. Running bib 8, she swooped in to beat Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather by 0.33 seconds and Switzerland’s Lara Gut by 0.38 seconds, who ended up in second and third place, respectively.
Schmidhofer underwent surgery for an ACL and meniscus tear just over a year ago, and has only two World Cup podium finishes to her name. It was quite a comeback for the Austrian, who was clearly overcome with emotion, breaking into tears during the podium ceremony.
"It’s really amazing; it’s unbelievable", she exclaimed. "I saw the course and thought, ‘Yeah, this could be good for me,’ and I knew that Lara went before me, so I thought that if I go for the finish, it will be for second place, maybe a medal. When I crossed the finish and it was green, I thought, ‘Yeah! That will be a medal!’ It was not important to me which one, and now it’s a gold medal, and that’s unbelievable".
For Tina Weirather, the result was a career milestone, her best World Championship result ever. Up until Tuesday, her best result was a fourth place in the 2015 World Championship giant slalom.
"I am very happy. It took me quite a while to accomplish this", she said. "I’ve never had good luck in events like that. I was injured before Vancouver and Sochi and missed a medal by six hundredths in Beaver Creek, and so every time I went to a World Championships, something crazy happened. So, obviously, the pressure got more and more with every time I went to a World Championships, and today, the pressure was enormous, but I was still able to do a great race and it, of course, makes me really proud".
Tina Weirather was happy to share the podium with Schmidhofer, a reunion from 10 years ago when they shared the podium at World Junior Championships. Weirather has also had a long relationship with the third-place finisher.
In third was Lara Gut, adding to her collection of top three results. The Swiss athlete now has five World Championship podium finishes to her name, but has never won a World Championship event. While a win would have been the best case scenario, a podium in front of a home crowd feels pretty good.
"In the end, I go on the slope and try to do my best, and I can’t do anything more than that", Gut said. "It was a little bit weird today; I couldn’t really ski the way I wanted. The snow was different than I expected. I had a little bit of a fight on the slope, so in the end it’s really great to have a medal. I think it was really important everyone, for the home fans and the team, to have something. I can build on that, and I’ll try to ski faster for the next one".

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