Italy's Sofia Goggia doubles up on downhill victories in Lake Louise

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LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Sofia Goggia won a second World Cup women's downhill in as many days Saturday, but in much different race conditions than her first.

The Italian's margin of victory in a shaken snow globe of a day on the Lake Louise hill wasn't as large as Friday's win under sunny skies, but was still decisive.

Goggia finished ahead of runner-up Breezy Johnson of the U.S. for a second day, but by just over eight-tenths of a second instead of almost a second and a half.

"Today was a completely different race and with the visibility, it was really flat, so it was not easy to read the terrain as it was yesterday for sure," Goggia said. "I won the race because I made a smart and solid run."

Reigning world downhill champion Corinne Suter of Switzerland finished third Saturday, almost a second back of Goggia.

Marie-Michele Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., vaulted into ninth after finishing 16th the previous day.

Sunday's super-G caps the women's race weekend at the Canadian resort in Banff National Park.

Goggia's downhill win was her sixth in a row dating back to last season when she took the World Cup season title.

She joined nine other women who won both downhills in a single Lake Louise World Cup.

Only Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. and Germany's Katja Seizinger added a super-G victory for the sweep.

Vonn collected Canadian hat tricks in 2015 and 2011, while Seizinger swept in 1997.

"I could already see in the last season, my challenge was not regarding a downhill after a downhill, but it's the super-G after the downhills," Goggia said. "The challenge of my weekend is going to be tomorrow."

The 29-year-old still proved her versatility winning in both clear, crisp conditions Friday and in a snow curtain Saturday.

Johnson also collected back-to-back podiums in her first time racing in Lake Louise since 2017 because of injuries.

"I felt like I was still charging considering how little you could see," Johnson said. "Consistency is not something that every downhill skier is blessed with. Based off my four podiums last year and these two, I hope that I maybe have that."

Gagnon, 32, has transitioned from the tech races of slalom and giant slalom to the speed disciplines of downhill and super-G in recent years.

The two-time Olympian crashed in a training run in Lake Louise in 2017 and lost a season to knee and shoulder injuries. After three top-10 downhill results last season, her fourth Saturday had the Canadian feeling she's making progress.

"I knew it was going to start to snow, and I don't mind that because it's even light the whole way," Gagnon said. "It's not like you go from sun to one dark gate.

"I try to take advantage on days like this because I know I can do something. For my performance today, I'm just happy I did a solid, strong performance. I know there's another gear.

"I still have less experience than some of these girls on the speed tracks even though I'm one of the older on the circuit."

Gagnon posted a breakout result in a speed discipline last season by winning a super-G bronze at a World Cup in Germany.

Unlike downhill, the racers don't get super-G training runs, but are limited to a morning course inspection on race day.

"I feel more confident in my abilities (in super-G) and I want to take that next step every day," the Canadian said. "I have to be really sure my line is good and then I'll attack, and then we'll see what happens."

Suter jumped from fifth Friday to the podium.

"The conditions were for me also better," Suter explained. "I like it more when it's harder, so I preferred to ski today.

"It wasn't a clean run, but it was much better. Yesterday, we watched video and I tried to make it better today. I did it, but with two, three, little mistakes."

The men and women earn equal prize purses in Lake Louise of 120,000 Swiss francs per race (C$165,000). Prize money is split among the top 30 finishers with the victor collecting 45,000 Swiss francs (C$62,000).

The men's and women's races in Lake Louise were cancelled last year due to COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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