Sofia Goggia of Italy won her first race of the season since her comeback from an ankle injury in the ladies' downhill at Crans-Montana (SUI) on Saturday. The warm, sunny day at the Swiss resort turned out to be a most unusual race for the competitors, but Goggia's dominance on the track was never in doubt as she posted blazing fast splits from start to finish in front of 13,200 spectators.
Joana Haehlen, who won her first FIS Junior World Ski Championships medal at Crans-Montana, skied the second fastest run of the day for her career-first podium. The Swiss skier tore her ACL in April of 2018 but opted not to have surgery and to strengthen the joint on her own instead. She was beyond pleased that she could compete at the highest level with her knee in its current condition, and she is in the midst of the best season of her career. Haehlen missed out on the typical finish line celebration, however, because her run time was not immediately available due to a timekeeping issue.
The race concluded with Austria's Nicole Schmidhofer, current leader of the downhill standings, rounding out the podium unofficially in third place. Following the flower ceremony, race officials were able to check and verify the race times for athletes who were affected by the timekeeping issues. Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland, who also did not receive a run time upon crossing the finish and was unofficially in fourth position prior to the check, was confirmed as the final podium athlete in third place. Schmidhofer was verified in fourth place.
Longines, Official Partner and Timekeeper of the FIS, and Swiss Timing, in charge of operations on site, released the following statement on the matter:
"There were unfortunately timekeeping issues at the Audi FIS World Cup ladies' downhill race in Crans Montana (SUI).
The problem was due to connection issues between the infrastructure installed on the finish line and the timekeeping room. Consequently, the electronic timekeeping did not stop the finish time automatically for some of the competitors.
Longines, Official Partner and Timekeeper of the FIS, and Swiss Timing, in charge of operations on site, are currently investigating the facts of this incident and will take on board fully the findings of this enquiry.
Despite the fact that the results were not displayed accurately in the finish area or on television, a manual backup timing system was used for the athletes that were affected as per FIS rules.
As a result of implementing the manual backup system, the top three finishers of today's downhill race are: First place, Sofia Goggia (ITA); second place, Joana Haehlen (SUI); third place, Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI).
Longines and Swiss Timing are very disappointed by this incident and wish to apologize to the athletes, organizers and spectators."
In addition to the timekeeping issues, downhill World Champion Ilka Stuhec unfortunately crashed into the safety nets during her run. She was able to ski down to the finish on her own, but she was transported to hospital for further examination. Tiffany Gauthier of France also experienced difficulty on course and stopped skiing mid-run with a suspected injury in her leg. She was transported via helicopter and then by ambulance to also be evaluated for injury.
The ladies' races in Crans-Montana continue on Sunday with alpine combined. The downhill run is scheduled to begin at 10:30 and the slalom run at 13:30 CET.
Official results from today's race are available here.