Ski racing Alpine skiing: Stuhec wins season-opening downhill

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Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia (C) celebrates after winning the Audi FIS Ski World Cup 1st Women's Downhill race with second place Sofia Goggia of Italy (L) and third place Kajsa Kling of Sweden (R) in Alberta, Canada on December 2, 2016 play

Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia (C) celebrates after winning the Audi FIS Ski World Cup 1st Women's Downhill race with second place Sofia Goggia of Italy (L) and third place Kajsa Kling of Sweden (R) in Alberta, Canada on December 2, 2016

(AFP)

Slovenia's Ilka Stuhec won the season-opening ladies downhill at Lake Louise on Friday with the first World Cup victory of her ski racing career.

The 26-year-old Stuhec stunned the favorites by clocking a winning time of one minute, 45.48 seconds to claim the first of two downhills this weekend at the mountain resort in the Canadian Rockies.

"I knew I could ski fast and I just needed to put it in a race and I did," said Stuhec, whose best previous result on the World Cup circuit was a fourth place in the 2013 super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

The second downhill is slated for Saturday followed by a super-G race on Sunday.

Italy's Sofia Goggia was second with a time of one minute, 45.70 seconds, while Sweden's Kajsa Kling finished third with one minute, 45.79 seconds.

The pre-race favorite, Lara Gut of Switzerland, settled for a time of one minute, 46.17 seconds and a fourth place finish.

Gut, who failed to earn a single World Cup point during last week's races in Vermont because of a bad fall, now sits in sixth in the overall race with 150 points.

Stuhec was a surprise winner Friday after starting from the 29th position.

"I had a feeling that I could show some more than just average results around 10th to 15th place, that I could ski good and I could ski fast and apparently, today, the fastest," Stuhec said.

American Mikaela Shiffrin is in first place in the overall with 338 points. She tied for 18th in Friday's downhill with a time that was almost two seconds slower than Stuhec.

But this is the first World Cup downhill for Shiffrin who has dominated in slalom the past few seasons.

"It wasn't bad at all," said Shiffrin of her downhill debut.

The 21-year-old American had a lengthy wait in the starting gate after the skier before her crashed.

"I struggled a little with the course hold, but it was a clean run -- cleaner than previous days," she said.

"I'm sure we'll see a couple things in video and then I'll try and make adjustments for tomorrow. But right now, I'm alive and everything's good."

The top Canadian was Valerie Grenier who finished in 28th.

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