The 46th Alpine World Ski Championships have been concluded. With the men’s slalom and the Closing Ceremony, followed by the handover to the French delegation of Courchevel-Méribel 2023, Cortina 2021 takes her leave from the international stage, after two weeks of spectacular races and thrilling sports moments.
Altogether, 10 nations won medals as Austria led the way in the medals table on the strength of five gold medals, one silver, and two bronze. Switzerland was close behind with nine total medals, three gold, one silver, and five bronze. France with 2 gold medals, one silver, and two bronze, and Germany with 3 silver medals and one bronze, also exceeded expectations with their medal count.
It was also a World Championship filled with many multiple medallists.
On the Men’s side, earning multiple medals were: Vincent Kriechmayr (2G), Mathieu Faivre (2G), Marco Schwarz (1G, 1B), Alexis Pinturault (1S, 1B), Loic Meillard (2B).
The Women’s side was equally impressive: Lara Gut-Behrami (2G, 1B), Katharina Liensberger (2G, 1B), Mikaela Shiffrin (1G, 1S, 2 B), Corinne Suter (1G, 1S), Petra Vlhova (2S).
Powered by double gold medallists Vincent Kriechmayr and Katharina Liensberger, Austria led all nations with five gold medals, while Switzerland topped the total medal count with nine, including five from speed queens Lara Gut-Behrami and Corinne Suter.
After a three-day weather delay at the start of the event, Vincent Kriechmayr and Lara Gut-Behrami claimed the first two gold medals of Cortina 2021 on Super-G Thursday on their way to becoming the skiers of the championships.
Lara Gut-Behrami, who had won 30 World Cup races without a major gold medal entering Cortina 2021, claimed the Super-G title as the heavy pre-race favourite, then took bronze in Downhill behind teammate Suter and won a surprise gold in Giant Slalom.
Vincent Kriechmayr added the Downhill to his Super-G title, joining Hermann Maier (Vail/Beaver Creek, 1999) and Bode Miller (Bormio/Santa Caterina, 2005) as the only men to do the speed double at the same world championships.
Lara Gut-Behrami’s dominance aside, the women’s races were marked by brilliant performances from two other skiers: one whose excellence has become par for the course and another whose rise to the top came as quite a surprise.
The unexpected was 23-year-old Liensberger, who matched Gut-Behrami with two golds and a bronze despite entering the championships having never won a World Cup race.
Liensberger began her podium charge by sharing parallel gold with Italy’s Marta Bassino – the host nation’s only victory of the championships – and then took a surprise bronze in giant slalom, a discipline in which she had only reached a World Cup podium once before.
Buoyed by these results, the rising star dominated her best event, slalom, to win her second gold, ending Shiffrin’s run of four consecutive world championship victories.
The expected came from US star Mikaela Shiffrin, who won the Alpine combined and claimed silver in giant slalom and bronze in super-G and slalom, taking her career world championships tally to a national record of 11 medals from just 13 races.
French star Pinturault brought home two medals, including an impressive bronze in the super-G, but as a virtually unbackable favourite in Alpine combined he could not defend his title, finishing second behind Marco Schwarz (AUT), and he came equal seventh in slalom.
Most disappointingly, Pinturault failed to finish the second run in his favoured giant slalom after entering as the hot favourite and leading following the first run.
Instead, the gold went to his teammate Mathieu Faivre, who also won the parallel to become one of five double gold medallists alongside Kriechmayr, Gut-Behrami, Liensberger and Foss-Solevaag, who also triumphed with Norway in the team event.
Faivre and Pinturault will now cast their eye on home snow for their next chance at world championship glory as the torch passes from Cortina 2021 to Courchevel Meribel.