Young Swiss talent Lara Gut has arrived with a bang on the skiing World Cup circuit, finishing third in her first downhill race in St Moritz on Saturday.This content was published on February 2, 2008 - 15:39
The 16-year-old crossed the line just 0.35 second behind the surprise winner Tina Maze of Slovenia, and just one hundredth of a second behind Austria's Maria Holhaus.
"This is my fourth World Cup race and already a podium finish," Gut said. "I haven't yet realized what this means."
Maze, who was 42nd out of the gate, won her sixth World Cup event, benefiting from better atmospheric conditions that made the piste faster and helped improve visibility as the race went on.
Gut admitted she benefited from better conditions than some of the race favourites too. "I was lucky to start in 32nd position," she added. "The piste was getting faster."
The teenager might have been on the way to a historic win if she hadn't fallen on the last jump. Despite this, and sliding across the line on just one ski, she managed to finish on the podium.
"I was a bit tired when I arrived on the last jump," she said. "I could have hurt myself, but I didn't even think of that."
Two other Swiss skiers were among the top ten: Fabienne Suter finished in a surprising seventh place after starting with bib number 52, while Monika Dumermuth came in tenth.
Gut was taking part in her first downhill race at this level of competition, although she started in the World Cup in late December. For this event on home snow, she had been the focus of much of the Swiss media's attention over the past few days.
She is considered a potential star for the Swiss women's team, which has struggled for consistency and often been starved of victories in recent years.
There has been no denying her talent. Last year, she came second in the downhill at the world junior championships in Altenmark, Austria, before claiming the national super G title.
Gut's preparation before Saturday's race had been promising. In January, she won two downhills and two super Gs in the European Cup, a feeder circuit for the World Cup.
She has been on a roll in St Moritz. She also scored three European Cup podiums in the Swiss resort last week.
Despite her previous success, she is considered a cool customer who can handle pressure.
"I've never put myself under pressure, and I am not going to start doing that now even if it is the World Cup," she said. "I've learnt how to handle it. If anyone is nervous, it has to be my father and my trainers."
swissinfo with agencies
1. Tina Maze (Slovenia) 1:44.38
2. Maria Holaus (Austria) 1:44.72
3. Lara Gut (Switzerland) 1:44.73
4. Emily Brydon (Canada) 1:44.76
5. Lindsey Vonn (USA) and Elisabeth Görgl (Austria) 1:44.80
7. Fabienne Suter (Switzerland) 1:44.92
8. Marie Marchand-Arvier (Frace) and Verena Stuffer (Italy) 1:45.11
10. Monika Dumermuth (Switzerland) 1:45.26
The men's downhill in the French resort of Val d'Isère was cancelled due to bad weather and snowfall on Saturday.
The race will be set at a later date and will probably take place in Norway early next month
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