Maiden downhill win for Gut

Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:07am EST
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By Manuele Lang

VAL D'ISERE, France (Reuters) - Lara Gut's exceptional talent was rewarded at last when the gifted Swiss skier won her maiden World Cup downhill on Friday.

Gut, who won a downhill silver medal at the age of 17 at the 2009 world championships in the same French resort - though on a different piste - clinched victory in one minute 19.75 seconds.

The Swiss skier was helped by the unexpected exit of Lindsey Vonn, winner of all four speed events held so far this season. The American four-times World Cup winner crashed on a turn in the upper section and ended up in the safety netting.

Vonn eventually skied down the OK piste safely but was so frustrated that the usually talkative Olympic champion refused to make any comment in the finish area.

Gut, who has won two Super-G races since 2009, has been slowly returning to form after a hip injury in 2010.

"I knew I was on the way back, that things were coming into place but I needed a confirmation. I'm very happy because it's my first downhill win, but even more because I'm back to the level that was mine before," she told reporters.

The Swiss, now 21, was helped by circumstances as the shortened course suited her skills while her early bib allowed her to take advantage of better visibility.

"I made the most of the conditions; I gave it my all as I always do", said Gut, known for her aggressive, swashbuckling style of skiing.   Continued...

L-R Second placed Leanne Smith of the U.S., winner Lara Gut of Switzerland and her third placed team mate Nadja Kamer react on the podium after the Women's World Cup Downhill skiing race in Val d'Isere, French Alps, December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Pratta