February 19, 2018 / 6:35 AM / 7 months ago

Alpine skiing: Vonn is downhill favorite, says rival Goggia

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - The form book suggests there is little to choose between the world’s top two women downhill skiers ahead of Wednesday’s Olympic race at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre.

Alpine Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women’s Downhill Training - Jeongseon Alpine Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Sofia Goggia of Italy trains. REUTERS/Mike Segar

But Italian Sofia Goggia believes her rival, 2010 gold medal winner Lindsey Vonn, starts as the woman to beat.

“Maybe she is the favorite, she has so much experience,” Goggia said on Monday, before pausing for thought.

“No, she is definitely the favorite,” she added with a grin.

Vonn, 33, won the last time the pair went head-to-head in a World Cup race in Garmisch earlier this month with Goggia finishing second.

Before that though Goggia, the 25-year-old from Bergamo, triumphed over the American in Bad Kleinkirchheim and Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Italian heads the World Cup downhill standings.

There is a fascinating contrast between the two leading contenders.

Vonn is often tense and can talk in great detail about course conditions and the necessary technical adjustments required.

Alpine Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women’s Downhill Training - Jeongseon Alpine Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 19, 2018 - Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. and Breezy Johnson of the U.S. smile. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Goggia seems less interested in ‘shop talk’ and suggests she doesn’t like to over-think things.

While Vonn spent time after her training run on Monday answering questions about abuse she has received on social media because of her views of U.S. President Donald Trump, Goggia was chatting with reporters about how much she enjoyed Czech snowboarder Ester Ledecka’s shock win in the women’s super-G.

“I love it when people who say things are guaranteed are shown that it isn’t guaranteed,” she laughed.

For the Italian when it comes to the Olympics, including Wednesday’s downhill, the form book counts for little, as does preparation.

“I feel good. Of course I have been better during the season, also physically, but it is not any more a matter of how you feel, how many trainings you do,” she said.

“It is about how badly you want it at the start gate and how bad you believe it. I am going to give it my best”.

Vonn said she would be watching film of Goggia’s training runs to see if she could get some ideas for the best line to take, especially in the lower section where others had complained it was hard to maintain speed.

But Goggia won’t be studying film.

“I haven’t seen the video of anyone – I know what I can do, I am going to trust myself,” she said.

“I think it’s not the line, it is how you feel the downhill, how you feel your skis and the set-up. Downhill is about how you connect together and I will try to (bring the) love” she said with a laugh.

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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