L Alpine skiing

Lara Gut-Behrami is the superstar of the current ski season. © ANSA / GIAN EHRENZELLER

Child prodigy, problem case, record-breaking woman: Gut-Behrami's late coronation

Lara Gut-Behrami is at the peak of her sporting achievements. The Swiss won the overall World Cup for the second time this season and is also the best giant slalom rider.

At the World Cup finals in Saalbach-Hinterglemm this weekend she can also win the discipline classifications in downhill and super-G. It would be a coup: to win the big crystal ball for the overall ranking and three small trophies in three of the four core Alpine disciplines in one season - only US superstar Mikaela Shiffrin had ever achieved this feat among women.

Some experts may boast that they already suspected back in St. Moritz that the young Lara would one day become one of the best racing drivers of her generation. However, the detours, setbacks and turbulences on the way to the top were just as unforeseeable as the transformation that the athlete has undergone over the years - and which has now led to Gut-Behrami being the oldest overall World Cup winner in history at 32 years and almost eleven months .

Crystal balls as far as the eye can see: Lara Gut-Behrami could equal Mikaela Shiffrin's record. © ANSA / GIAN EHRENZELLER

Her career got off to a great start: ten months after her first podium finish, the young star won a World Cup race for the first time - in St. Moritz; In February 2009, the still underage athlete won two silver medals at the World Championships in Val d'Isère. But she was offended early on: through her private training team and through criticism of the association. In the media, the woman from the canton of Ticino, who speaks fluent German, Italian, French, English and now also Spanish, was characterized as arrogant.

“Deliver, deliver, deliver”

“I was 16 years old when I came to the World Cup. A child,” she recalled in early 2022 after her Olympic victory in Beijing, according to the tabloid View reported. “There were a lot of things I didn’t know how to deal with. I was lost at times and didn't know what was best for me. I just had to deliver, deliver, deliver.”

After success there were always setbacks. In the fall of 2009, she injured her hip and missed the Vancouver Olympics. In 2016 she won the overall World Cup for the first time and a year later was supposed to provide golden days at the home World Cup in St. Moritz: After winning bronze in the Super-G, she tore a cruciate ligament in a training accident and was out for a long time. It was a shock. The 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang were disappointing, in the Super-G she was one hundredth of a second short of bronze and twelve short of gold.

No social media, more success

Shortly afterwards, she made her relationship with Swiss national soccer player Valon Behrami public and married the ex-professional in the summer of 2018. This was a turning point. She deleted her social media accounts and thereby cleared her mind.

Valon Behrami is Lara Gut-Behrami's husband. © APA/afp / JOHANNES EISELE

At a somewhat advanced skiing age, Gut-Behrami can now enjoy her sport more and mostly ignore the pressure. Two World Cup gold medals in 2021 and the Olympic victory a year later certainly helped. With 369 World Cup starts to date, she is the most experienced, active ski racer. Thanks to her routine, she no longer has to train as intensively and extensively as others. Her body thanks her: Unlike some rivals, including Shiffrin, she got through the season without injuries.

Father fuels speculation about resignation

So the four-pack of balls can succeed in Saalbach at the weekend - and if not, then the disappointment will be limited. She recently announced that she wanted to continue driving for at least one more winter. “She hasn’t exhausted her potential yet and wants more,” said her father and trainer Pauli Gut in “Blick” and at the same time added: “But who knows: Maybe she’ll say tomorrow that she’s resigning.”

“I'm at peace with myself,” says Gut-Behrami in a relaxed manner, 16 years after she, as a ski prodigy, plunged into the finish line of St. Moritz and onto the big ski stage.


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