Mikaela Shiffrin takes 13th as Gut-Behrami wins Killington World Cup giant slalom
American maintains overall cup lead heading into Sunday's slalom, a race she's never lost
After winning the opening two World Cup slaloms in Levi, Finland, last weekend, Mikaela Shiffrin placed 13th Saturday in the Killington World Cup giant slalom in Killington, Vermont. Swiss skier Lara Gut-Behrami won the event in a combined time of 1 minute, 44.08 seconds. Giant slalom specialist Marta Bassino (1:44.15) took second and Sara Hector (1:44.28) rounded out the podium in third. It was the Swiss skier’s 35th career World Cup win and fifth career giant slalom victory.
“The last two years I’ve been getting better in GS again, I haven’t won a title but I was improving my GS every race,” Gut-Behrami said to the FIS media.
Shiffrin sat in 10th after the first run, 1.36 seconds behind then leader Hector, the defending Olympic giant slalom champion. After the first run, Shiffrin, who has placed fifth, second, fourth and third in previous Killington giant slaloms, told NBC reporters that it was hard to find her rhythm earlier on because of the lack of speed on the tightly-set course.
Gut-Behrami, agreed. “It was a really different set,” she said. “The first run was slow which I don’t really like usually, but I tried to ski clean and that is the thing I am really happy about my skiing today because there were two different runs and two different course settings and I was able to ski both of them.”
On the more open set second-run “Superstar” course, Shiffrin ignored the 25-mph winds and found her speed early. She ceded time on the lower portions of the course, however, losing her tempo in-between turns and finishing with a time of 1:45.48, 1.20 seconds behind Gut-Behrami, the 2022 Olympic super-G champion.
Support Local Journalism
“I think some turns I was a little bit cleaner, but it’s a timing thing,” she told NBC’s Heather Cox afterward. “When I miss the timing then I lose a lot more time than I should. We’re going to watch the video and see what to improve for the next races. For now, it’s kind of switching to the slalom gears and I’ve had much more preparation in slalom, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Shiffrin is the only athlete to ever win a Killington World Cup slalom, as she’s won the last five. On Sunday, she hopes to satisfy the Vermont crowd with a sixth. The first run is at 8:15 a.m. MST; the second follows at 11 a.m. MST.
“It’s amazing with this crowd; you can feel it with this rumbling,” she said of the American fan support. “It’s pretty special to have a race in my career where you get that feeling because it’s not every race. But here, they always bring that energy that’s unbelievable.”
When asked how she planned to prepare for Sunday, she said she was headed up the hill to get in some slalom work before the lifts shut down.
“So, see if I can get the quick feet moving,” she said.
“It’s just a total change of mentality; it’s really a totally different event. So, try to bring back some of the feeling I had in Levi and see what happens.”
Shiffrin remains in first in the World Cup overall standings with 220 points, 50 clear of Petra Vlhova (170). Hector (141), Wendy Holdener (140) and Katharina Liensberger (101) round out the overall top five.
O’Brien returns to snow
Nina O’Brien’s “Fracture Friday” story has its ‘redemption’ moment. O’Brien, who broke her leg in the Olympics in February and spoke to the Vail Daily during her recovery from the accident in Edwards this spring, qualified for a second run (26th place in the first run) in her return to World Cup competition on Saturday. She wound up finishing 23rd overall. Paula Moltzan was the second-highest American finisher in 18th, with Katie Hensien coming in 27th.
Fellow Americans and SSCV alumnae Ava Sunshine and Allie Resnick did not qualify for a second run, finishing 46th and 47th, respectively.