Corinne Suter: I've always wanted to be the fastest

The downhill world champion explains why she loves speed, what quality she would steal from her idol Lindsey Vonn, and how horses calm her down when she needs to recover.

7 min By Alessandro Poggi
(Picture by 2020 Getty Images)

Corinne Suter grew up idolising Olympic gold medallist Lindsey Vonn and is now trying to follow in the footsteps of the 'Speed Queen':

In the last few seasons Suter has become one of the fastest women in the alpine skiing world: after securing two World Cup globes in 2020, the 27-year-old Swiss speedster from Schwyz stormed to a historic gold medal in downhill at the World championships in Cortina, a few days after claiming silver in Super G.

This September an injury - caused by a fall in training in Zermatt - forced Suter to miss the opening event in Soelden, making the Lake Louise events (3rd & 4th December) her season debut. Last time the White Circus stopped at the Canadian resort in 2019 she collected a second (downhill) and third place (super G).

"I'm super happy that I can finally start my season," the four-time world medallist said.

"Last season we didn't go to North America and I'm looking forward especially to Lake Louise, because I like the slope, I like the course and everything around it."

Olympics.com spoke exclusively with Suter to talk about her goals in this Olympic season, her love for speed, and how her cats and horses help her find a balance in life.

Olympics.com (O): In the last two seasons you’ve become one of the best speed skiers in the world - what’s the main reason behind your progress?

Corinne Suter (CS): It's a difficult question, because I think it's like a puzzle: in every little piece [of my skiing] I made a little step in the right direction, whether it's mental health, my materials, my technique... I think I'm a little bit better in each of these [areas].

O: You already won two World Cup globes, with a more balanced calendar between speed and technical discipline do you think you can aim for the overall Crystal globe?

CS: To be honest, for me, it's not a goal at the moment because I want to ski with the best in the speed disciplines because this is also an Olympic season and I want to be able win maybe a medal. And so my focus is set on downhill and also Super G.

O: What makes you a fast and efficient skier down the slopes?

CS: I think I have a good mix of everything: I can take risks, but for sure not during the first training runs because I'm always skiing with my head a little bit. In the race for sure you have to take a lot of risks so you can be in the front. I would say I have a really good feeling for the snow and for my skiing, I think it's something special.

O: How would you explain your love for speed events?

CS: I grew up with my three brothers and they also did sport and everyone wanted to be faster than the other one. And I think all the time, also when I was a child, I always wanted to be the best. I don't know, just not only in skiing, also in general. I liked doing athletics and horse riding and I always tried to be as fast as I can.

O: Can you describe what you feel before and during a race?

CS: I like the feeling when there's an inspection [of the track], it's always very special for me because you're nervous, and then there's the adrenaline before the start. I can't describe this feeling, it's super special: your heart is beating a little bit faster and then, while you're skiing, I have no idea what's in my head. I just want to be as fast as possible at the finish. And I think the adrenaline helps me with that, so I can react really, really fast if something is happening. And yes, the feeling when you cross the line, it's amazing and I think it's the best feeling I ever felt.

O: You are part of strong team along with Lara Gut-Behrami, Michelle Gisin, and Wendy Holdener: what makes Switzerland so competitive, especially in the women’s field?

CS: I think the Swiss team has a really good team spirit in general, and I can say I'm very happy that I can train with such strong girls because for me it's really important so you can push each other to the limit. If somebody is faster than, then you try to be as good as her and always there's these little battles. And I think this is why we are so strong at the moment.

O: You always said your idol was Lindsey Vonn: how did she inspire you?

CS: When I was a little bit younger, I always watched her because I like her as a person and also how she's skiing. Also her mental strength is amazing and I've always, yeah, looked up to her. And then I can remember when I first saw her in Vail, we trained together, it was super special for me because I only knew her from TV, and then suddenly she stood before me.

O: What quality would you steal from her?

CS: I think she could generate a lot of speed in some parts [of the track], while others weren't able to. I think this is why she was so fast all the time and after every steep part, she could take so much speed to the flat section...she was super fast.

O: Vonn has always been an advocate of women racing against men: how intrigued are you by breaking this barrier?

CS: At the moment, not really, to be honest. We can train sometimes together for sure, we can have a look at how they're doing, but the men have more strength in their nature and I think it's not possible to be faster than them. Maybe if you have a super super run, you can be in the top 30- 40, I don't know, but I think it's good like it is now. But you can always learn something from the men and I like when I can train with them because they sometimes are skiing on different lines, and this is interesting. Then at evening you can watch and analyse the videos and try something different the next day.

O: Alpine skiing is a very demanding sport, how do you find a balance - mentally and physically?

CS: I love to be in the stables with the horses. I also have three cats, Mizi, Stampfi, and Sina, and always when I'm not skiing or with my family and friends, I spend most of the time with animals because they are good balance for me. Also, besides the sport, sometimes [I need] just to stay calm, I also like to be alone sometimes. And that's for me, a really good balance.

O: You describe yourself in your website as ‘ambitious’ and ‘determined’: what motivates you at this point of your career?

CS: I feel like I am learning every day and I think every race is an opportunity to get better and better. Even when sometimes you lose, you can learn a lot. And I think there's never a day when you can say, 'Wow, that's it.' I think every day you have to do something for your mental health, your physical condition, to improve the collaboration with the rest of the team...Yeah, I never feel fully satisfied.

O: What's your motto?

CS: I would say it's the phrase: everything happens for a reason. When something is not working how you want, those are good words to move on all the time.

O: How are you going to approach this important season?

CS: I prefer to take it day by day. Now my thoughts are set on Lake Louise. I want to be with the top girls and then we will see what's going to happen between now and Beijing.

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