On Friday, October 26th, rumor had it the highly anticipated race in Soelden would not happen due to weather conditions. Warmer temperatures around 40 degrees and a mix of rain and snow accompanied by strong winds were expected.

But the track was in good shape, and the race prevailed. Starting from the reserve start, the women would ski onward into bumpy conditions, low visibility, and wet snow flurries.

In the end, Tessa Worley came out on top. The Frenchwoman had a few mistakes in both her first and second runs but charged through each turn to hang on to her time, moving up two places after her first run to take the win over Federica Brignone by 0.35 seconds.

“It was a huge fight,” she said after her second run. “The slope was very bumpy, very difficult, we couldn’t see much. I knew it was going to be a fight with the slope, but also with all the other girls. So I just wanted to charge and have no regrets at the end. It’s so cool to feel this again.”

Today was Worley’s 12th start at Soelden, and her first win, marking the first win for a Frenchwoman in Soelden’s history.

Tessa Worley (FRA). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Markus Oberlaender

Federica Brignone, who was first out of the gate, completed a clean run, a sight that became rare to see in the beginnings of the season opener. Despite holding the lead throughout the course of the first run, she still wasn’t satisfied. The Italian had missed 45 days of training this summer due to injury, and she was nervous her body wouldn’t hold up in course conditions. 

“Last few days I was really relaxed, but today I was really stressed. I almost puked before my first run and before and after my second runs” she explained in the post-race press conference with FIS Alpine. “I keep saying when I was coming down, ‘fight, fight’, ‘go on, go on’…it was so hard. I think it was the toughest run of my life.”

Rounding off the podium was Mikaela Shiffrin, who trailed Worley by 0.94 seconds overall. After placing out of the top 3 after her first run due to a bobble that cost her a bit of time, the American skied a solid second run to ward off last year’s champion, Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, by 0.04 seconds.

“The second run there was much more fight. It wasn’t pretty and there are many things I can improve,” the American admitted. “But I was fighting harder and that was a really positive thing and a good step for the season.”

The Norwegians also demonstrated a good fight, dominating the top 10 with four solid finishes by Ragnhild Mowinckel (who tied with Stephanie Brunner for 5th), Kristin Lysdahl (8th), Thea Louise Stjernesund (9th), and Kristine Gjelsten Haugen (10th).


Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR) charges forward to snag a tie for 5th with Stephanie Brunner (AUT). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Daniel Goetzhaber

Both Mowinckel and Lysdahl held their positions after the first run. But in the second run, Haugen jumped three spots, while Stjernesund jumped a whopping 15 spots to break into the top 10.

Today was Stjernesund’s World Cup debut, and it couldn’t have gone better for the 21-year-old. Drawing bib 33, the young racer came from behind to help set her team up in the comfortable position of second place overall for the season.

The Norwegians performance today speaks to their depth. With Mowinckel (who took home two silver medals from PyeongChang last season), and the young talent of Stjernesund and Lysdahl (who recently turned 22), the Viking women made a clear statement in Soelden – they are not to be underestimated this coming season.

The next women’s tech race (slalom) will take place in Levi, Finland on November 17th, at 10:15 am CET. The women of giant slalom will have to wait until Killington, Vermont, the weekend of November 24th, to compete again.


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