Downhill skier Štuhec wraps up Olympic career with 22nd place

Beijing – Slovenia’s skier Ilka Štuhec underperformed in the women’s downhill at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday due to back pain. The two-time downhill World Champion finished in 22nd place, three seconds behind the first-placed Corinne Suter of Switzerland. This was Štuhec’s last Olympic performance.

After the race, the 31-year-old was visibly emotional, barely holding back tears. “I can’t be happy, that’s for sure. On the other hand, I’ve nothing to reproach myself for. Unfortunately, it was what it was today. The first few days were fine…,” she said before her emotions got the better of her.

Nevertheless, Štuhec put on her signature smile, telling reporters that she had felt pain in her back but forgot about it at the start. But at the finish line she felt it again. She added that it was a completely new pain or inflammation, which apparently came with a delay after some previous problems.

“First of all I’d like to heal my back, the season is not over yet,” she said when asked if she was perhaps thinking about ending her career.

Her today’s appearance was her last Olympic performance, according to an announcement she had made earlier, but she is hopeful that the rest of the season could be injury-free and hence better.

The three-second gap behind the winner is a result of a lack of strength on her part, she said, adding she had not been sure she would be able to perform in the race at all. Last week, she missed the super-G in Beijing due to back pain.

Štuhec has been besieged by injuries several times in her career, whose highlights include winning the downhill World Cup in 2017 and 2019.

Another Slovenian, Maruša Ferk Saioni, competed in today’s downhill race to finish 23rd. The 33-year-old, who was the oldest competitor in today’s race, remains in Beijing, as she will also compete in the Alpine combined on Thursday. Her best Olympic result in this discipline is tenth place in Sochi in 2014.