Triple crown: US goes 1-2 as Shiffrin completes sweep of all three tech events in Semmering, Austria
Shiffrin claims 80th-career World Cup victory as Paula Moltzan nabs second-place
Well, don’t bother calling Pat Riley. No need for “three-peat” when you can go and make it a four-peat, right? Plus, Mikaela Shiffrin can own the copyright for an original “Semmering Sweep” after Thursday.
The Edwards skier completed her sweep of the Semmering, Austria, World Cup tech events on Thursday, winning the slalom — her fourth straight World Cup win after a super-G victory in St. Moritz on Dec. 18 and back-to-back giant slalom victories on Tuesday and Wednesday — in scintillating fashion. Her combined time of 1 minute, 43.26 seconds was 0.29 seconds ahead of her American teammate Paula Moltzan, who claimed her first career slalom World Cup podium. Lena Duerr (1:43.60) of Germany rounded things out in third.
“Yeah — Paula had a ripping run. I saw it from the start. I was like, she might win this race,” an emotional Shiffrin said after winning her 50th-career World Cup slalom and 80th-career World Cup event. She received a chocolate cake commemorating the milestone after the podium ceremony.
“It is so special to share a podium with her and yeah I don’t have much to say about 80 yet — I don’t know what to say.”
“It’s not setting in yet,” Moltzan said. “I don’t have any thoughts yet — I’m still working on the words.”
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Shiffrin entered run No. 2 with a 0.72 lead over Anna Swenn-Larsson of Sweden after posting a time of 49.82 seconds earlier in the day. Meanwhile, Moltzan was well-positioned for her second career podium (she was second in a parallel in Lech/Zuers on Nov. 26, 2020), holding down the third position (50.61). Duerr (50.62) and Petra Vlhova (50.83) lurked in fourth and fifth while Wendy Holdener (50.84), who won the last two slaloms on the World Cup calendar in Sestriere on Dec. 11 and Killington on Nov. 27, was in sixth.
In run No. 2, Holdener got over her skis a bit in the middle section of the course, where she ceded considerable time to the athletes who’d raced prior. She still slid into a temporary lead with Vlhova — hungry for something more than another third-place finish (she already had four) on deck. The Slovak worked the upper section aggressively and then recovered from a sloppy third segment to rip the fastest final, moving into first by 0.14 seconds.
Duerr kept the unseating trend going, popping into first by 0.42 seconds. Then, Moltzan, despite having a few rocky moments at the top of the course where her weight shifted back and skis came apart, rallied at the bottom. Her lightning-fast final segment rocketed her into first by 0.05 seconds with only two athletes remaining.
“There’s always pressure; it’s a sport of hundredths of a second, so I definitely was a little nervous, a little scared, but I knew my skiing could do it, so I kind of took a couple of deep breaths and let it happen,” Moltzan said of her feelings before the run.
Swenn-Larsson had a disappointing day, sliding into sixth, which meant, with only Shiffrin to go, Moltzan remained in the leader’s chair.
“I knew she had it in her, so I wasn’t really thinking I was going to win,” Moltzan said in a podium interview regarding what she was thinking as her teammate prepared to take off.
Racing under the lights in clear, calm, 3-degree (Celsius) weather, Shiffrin’s second attempt down the 64-gate Panorama course wasn’t exactly like the first. Conservative in the first segment, she gave back 0.30 seconds. In the middle, however, it was vintage Shiffrin. With a disciplined upper-body position, the Edwards skier trusted her skis and carved down the 210-meter vertical drop with steady rhythm and a bouncy, sharp flow. She gained back sixth-hundredths in segment two and 0.26 seconds in the third. Fatigue appeared to set in slightly at the bottom, where a few sloppier gate navigations chopped the athletes’ momentum, ultimately resulting in a 0.52-second loss in segment four alone. But, the heavy lifting had already been done.
“It was a bit wild. We had a long wait on the start,” Shiffrin told FIS reporters at the base.
Shiffrin told the public address announcer a few moments after the podium ceremony that she wasn’t thinking about her proximity to Lindsey Vonn’s all-time wins record (82) during the race, but felt as though the evening would be special for a different reason.
“What I was thinking today was, ‘today is the day we get on the podium together,'” she said.
“I was like crying between runs like, ‘it’s going to happen!’ I’m like, ‘stop being so emotional!’ So, that’s the coolest thing about tonight. I know how much she wants this and in the end, to be able to share it together, that makes my 80th and 50th more special to me.”
“It’s been a bunch of baby steps leading to this point. There’s no one big thing, it’s just been consistency in training and now carrying that into a race,” Moltzan said.
By capping a successful week with her sixth win of the season, Shiffrin moved into a tie for the slalom discipline lead. She’s also second in the giant slalom, third in the super-G, 11th in downhill and first in the overall standings.
In 2019, she set the World Cup record for wins in a single season (19) and she also holds the record for consecutive wins in a single discipline (12), but the record for consecutive wins in any discipline (10), is held by Vreni Schneider and Ingemar Stenmark.
Shiffrin will be favored to keep the streak going: the women’s World Cup travels to Zagreb, Croatia, for a pair of slaloms Jan. 4-5.
Negomir skis to 24th in Bormio super-G
Former SSCV athlete Kyle Negomir skied to his second top-25 World Cup super-G finish on Thursday. The 24-year-old was 24th in the Bormio, Italy, event with a time of 1:32.76. Marco Odermatt (1:29.27) won the event. Negomir’s best finish of the season came on Nov. 27 in Lake Louise, where he was 23rd.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle was the top American Thursday, finishing in 13th-place. Fellow Americans River Radamus and Bryce Bennett did not finish the run.