Ski: This is how the ball fight between Gut-Behrami and Vlhova could end


Petra Vlhova (left) and Lara Gut-Behrami are in a head-to-head race in the overall World Cup. Image: keystone


Fight for the big ball – the math speaks for Vlhova, the rest for Gut-Behrami

For a long time, the race for the overall women’s World Cup looked like a one-woman show: Petra Vlhova just seemed to be the only way to get past. The 25-year-old Slovakian lined up victory after victory in the slalom at the start of the season and the omnibus also scored regularly in the other disciplines.

But since last weekend, another rider has suddenly been greeting from the top of the overall World Cup: Lara Gut-Behrami. The 29-year-old from Ticino has been in a dream shape since mid-January. Since then she has won almost everything there is to be won.

The status in the overall World Cup (26/34):

bild: screenshot srf

At the World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo she won two golds and one silver, and in the last seven races of the World Cup she has always been on the podium – five times at the top, twice Gut-Behrami came second. A maximum deficit of 367 points has become a lead of 187 points. The second triumph in the overall World Cup after the 2015/16 season is within reach.

The fight for the overall World Cup:

What a steep curve for Lara Gut-Behrami. graphic: watson

There are still eight races to go this winter. The rest of the program speaks clearly in favor of Vlohva: four slaloms are still being driven, but only two giant slaloms, one super-G and one downhill run. Since Gut-Behrami does not drive any slaloms – if she does, she has little chance of scoring points – she can only score in four races. The Slovak, on the other hand, starts in all disciplines and has always been in the top 4 in the five slaloms so far this season. She was celebrated as the winner three times, and came fourth twice.

The remaining races of the season:

  • 6th March: Giant slalom in Jasna
  • 7th March: Slalom and Jasna
  • March 12th: Slalom in Are
  • March 13th: Slalom in Are
  • 17. March: Departure in Lenzerheide
  • March 18th: Super-G in Lenzerheide
  • March, 20th: Slalom in Lenzerheide
  • March 21st: Giant slalom in Lenzerheide

Vlhova’s goal is clear: the 2019 giant slalom world champion has to make up for the gap to Gut-Behrami in Jasna and then in the two slaloms in Are. Then before the World Cup final in Lenzerheide, where all four traditional individual disciplines are driven, there would be roughly a tie – and it would depend on every race.

Gut-Behrami has to keep her good form if she wants to stand a chance against Vlhova. Image: keystone

Who is the pointer pointing to? If you take the points gained so far per discipline and extrapolate them to the individual races up to the end of the season, then Vlhova would be just ahead of the game in the end and would take the big ball with a margin of 26 points.

Average points per discipline in the 2020/21 season:

  • Slalom: Gut-Behrami 0 – Vlhova 80
  • Giant slalom: Gut-Behrami 43.17 – Vlhova 36.33
  • Super-G: Gut-Behrami 87.5 – Vlohva 26.33
  • Departure: Gut-Behrami 54.71 – Vlohva 23.43

The extrapolation in the bullet fight:

After “Expected Points”, Vlhova ends up just ahead of Gut-Behrami. graphic: watson

But skiing is not just a matter of mathematics. In addition to the bare numbers, there are also soft factors – such as shape, pressure, experience, relaxation and snow conditions. Let’s take a closer look at the individual factors:

  • Form: Gut-Behrami advantage
    While the Swiss made an irresistible impression recently, Vlohva struggled with herself again and again. Despite two silver medals (slalom and combination), the Slovakian fell short of expectations at the World Cup.
  • Pressure: Gut-Behrami advantage
    Even if the new speed queen is currently at the top of the overall World Cup, she has nothing to lose. Before the season started, nobody expected that she would end up around the big ball. Because Gut-Behrami has already won the small Super-G ball, it will definitely not go away empty-handed. Vlhova, on the other hand, could face that, because she has to fight for the small slalom ball against Mikaela Shiffrin and Katharina Liensberger. She can’t afford a zero in any race.
  • Experience: Gut-Behrami advantage
    The Swiss woman has already won a psychological battle for the big ball. At the end of the season in 2015/16 everything revolved around the race for the overall World Cup between her and Lindsey Vonn. In the end, Gut-Behrami prevailed, which could help her this time too. Vlhova, on the other hand, is seriously at the forefront for the first time.

Lara Gut-Behrami in March 2016 with the large crystal ball. PICTURED: KEYSTONE

  • Recovery: Gut-Behrami advantage
    Vlhova will do the full program over the next three weekends. The Slovak can get more points than Gut-Behrami, but she is also physically more stressed. The Swiss will have significantly more free time in the next two and a half weeks. It had recently been “long days”, she was struggling “like many others with fatigue,” Gut-Behrami said last. “Switching off at home, that’s what I need most now.”
  • Snow conditions: Vlhova advantage
    The Slovakian recently had big problems in icy conditions and didn’t really get into driving. Spring snow, like the one we had in Zagreb this season, has definitely been better for her recently. She should get her money’s worth at Vlhova’s home races in Jasna and Lenzerheide. Gut-Behrami should hope for a cold snap in mid-March, she usually feels more comfortable in icy conditions.

Vlhova was not completely satisfied with himself and the world in the end. Image: keystone

How the race for the overall World Cup will end is of course still in the stars, despite all the prognoses and analyzes. After all, it is only possible to look into the crystal ball once it has been distributed. Only one thing seems certain at the moment: that the ball fight will remain extremely exciting until the end. It may not be decided until the last race of the season. In the giant slalom in Lenzerheide, where Gut-Behrami and Vlhova are about equally strong.


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Ski ball fight GutBehrami Vlhova


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