Mikaela Shiffrin nabs second straight World Cup giant slalom win in Semmering, Austria | VailDaily.com

Mikaela Shiffrin nabs second straight World Cup giant slalom win in Semmering, Austria

American claims 79th-career World Cup win and fifth of 2022-2023 season

Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during the first run of the women's World Cup giant slalom in Semmering, Austria on Wednesday.
Piermarco Tacca/AP photo

The giant slalom is the gift that keeps on giving for Mikaela Shiffrin.

On Wednesday, the 27-year-old used another scintillating opening run — and did just enough in the second — to win back-to-back giant slaloms in Semmering, Austria. The American claimed World Cup win No. 79 — one day after holding on for No. 78 — with a combined time of 2 minutes, 3.51 seconds, passing up run No. 1 leader Lara Gut-Behrami (2:03.61) with her work on the top section of the course. Marta Bassino, the giant slalom discipline leader coming into the day, rounded out the podium in third.

“Today I was a bit more nervous than yesterday, but it was still really nice skiing,” Shiffrin told FIS reporters afterward. The Edwards skier also won the Semmering giant slalom double in 2016.

Shiffrin’s increased focus on speed events may have aided her in Wednesday morning’s first run. With the Panorama course set uncharacteristically straight by Swedish coach (and former Canadian head coach) Manuel Gamper, Shiffrin and speed event specialist Gut-Behrami posted the only sub-60-second times in the field. The Swiss Olympic super-G gold medalist gunned the icy route in 59.23 and the American followed in 59.45. Bassino, who finished third on Tuesday, was third at 1:00.04 and her Italian teammate Federica Brignone (1:00.24) sat in fourth.

Mikaela Shiffrin had the second-fastest opening run in Wednesday’s giant slalom.
Giovanni Auletta/AP photo

“It’s quite a straight course, a really fast course, and it has some bumps in it,” Shiffrin told the Associated Press after her first run. “It’s kind of hard to ski something with so little turn, and I’m really happy that I was able to do it that well.”

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With the posture of a downhiller in the upper section, Shiffrin in her second run pierced a massive gash into then-leader, Bassino. She posted the day’s second-fastest first sector and fastest second.

“I got in a good rhythm at the top and tried to carry the momentum for the bottom but it’s not easy,” Shiffrin said.

“It was very dark and it was very bumpy these two days. I just tried to push. It’s easier when I expect it’s going to be difficult — I can push harder instead of going back.”

American fans held their collective breath, however, as Shiffrin transitioned into the middle section’s turns. She lost serious momentum after coming too close to one gate, and the momentarily off-balance skiing was reflected in her lower-course splits. Her third and fourth sectors – the 26th and 23rd-fastest, respectively — put her in the leader’s chair, but made it Gut-Behrami’s race to lose.

Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami took second place in Wednesday’s giant slalom in Semmering, Austria.
Giovanni Auletta/AP photo

Unfortunately for Swiss fans, that’s exactly what happened. Gut-Behrami gave up 0.40 seconds in the first split alone and another 0.29 in the second, ground she was never able to gain back.

“It was tough,” Gut-Behrami, who finished seventh on Tuesday, said.

“The snow was really bumpy. I skied for sure faster than yesterday but I didn’t have really a good feeling. … I just tried to be fast and make the skis run. The second run with that mistake, I just tried to push to the finish line.”

With her fifth win of the season, Shiffrin moves into second place in the giant slalom standings, just 40 points behind Bassino. She increased her overall lead to 305 points going into Thursday’s slalom, a discipline in which she also has the season lead.

“I am going to try tomorrow but I don’t think I am going to win the race,” Shiffrin humbly stated.

“I think Wendy (Holdener) is so strong and some of the other women. It’s going to be a tough race no matter what. I am really looking forward to it.”

Paula Moltzan makes a turn during the first run of the giant slalom in Semmering, Austria on Wednesday.
Giovanni Auletta/AP photo

It was a good day for American skiing in general as Paula Moltzan worked her way up from the 24th spot in the first run to a second-straight top-10 finish. Moltzan had the second-fastest second run in the field to finish in ninth-place overall.

Nina O’Brien (34th), Katie Hensien (47th) and Ava Sunshine (51st) failed to qualify for a second run.

Semmering’s tech events wrap up tomorrow, with the first slalom run at 7 a.m. MST, and a second following at 10:30 a.m.

Mikaela Shiffrin, center, celebrates on the podium with second-placed Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami, left, and third-placed Italy’s Marta Bassino, in Semmering, Austria on Wednesday.
Piermarco Tacca/AP photo

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