Aare, 10 February – Slovenian ski star Ilka Štuhec won the downhill at the Skiing World Championships on Sunday, defending her title and achieving the highlight of her career.
The 22nd World Championship medal for Slovenia marks a dream comeback for the 28-year-old, who returned to competition this season after sitting out the entire previous season due to a knee injury.
Štuhec finished the shortened course – it was cut by almost a quarter due to bad weather – in 1 minute, 1.74 seconds, 0.23 seconds ahead of Corinne Sutter of Switzerland.
Lindsey Vonn bid farewell to professional skiing with a surprise third place, half a second adrift.
Due to the shortened course, the downhill was widely expected to be just the latest in a series of very tight races this year, making Štuhec’s 0.23-second gap all the more impressive.
Štuhec has also become first woman to defend the downhill World Championship title in downhill thirty years.
The Maribor native said she knew she was able to ski fast, she just “needed the confidence to ski and enjoy”.
“I felt super determined at the start to just throw myself into it,” she said.
“I am yet to realize what I have done again. I just stood on the start, ready to ski and enjoy, and I did it.”
Having already won three downhill podiums this season, Štuhec entered the event as one of the favourites despite a dismal 8th place in the super-G and tenth place in the combined.
Vonn had set a great time before her with an excellent second half of the race, but Štuhec excelled throughout the course to carve out the decisive advantage.
Despite initially wanting to appear in the giant slalom, Štuhec will leave Aare to focus on the rest of the season and the remaining three downhill World Cup races.
She is currently third in the overall downhill rankings behind the Austrians Ramona Siebenhofer and Nicole Schmidhofer.