Mikaela Shiffrin reaches podium in World Cup GS race in Austria
LIENZ, Austria — In one of the tightest finishes on the FIS Ski World Cup circuit this season, Italy’s Federica Brignone edged out Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg and Eagle-Vail local Mikaela Shiffrin by just 0.08 seconds to win Friday’s giant slalom in Lienz, Austria.
The third place finish came a day after Shiffin dominated the Schlossberg slalom course for her 36th career win.
“I’m really happy with my performance over the two days,” Shiffrin told reporters. “But it always stings a bit when you think, third place, eight hundredths from the lead, or four hundredths from second place, it’s really close but it means it’s a good competition for the women and that’s really exciting for us and exciting for the fans.”
Shiffrin notched her ninth podium result of the season and maintained her overall World Cup lead over Rebensburg. However, with her second-place finish, Rebensburg moved into the giant slalom lead by 13 points over Shiffrin.
For Brignone and Italy, it was the first women’s World Cup win of the season, coming a day after Dominik Paris got the Italian men’s team its first podium by winning the Bormio downhill.
‘HAD TO GO’
Ranked fourth after the opening leg of a giant slalom on the Schlossberg course, Brignone posted the fourth-fastest time and edged first-run leader Rebensburg of Germany by 0.04 seconds.
Shiffrin was 0.05 behind Rebensburg in second after the opening run and lost a place after posting the eighth-fastest time in the final run.
“I like to be one who is chasing. I didn’t have a lead to work with so I felt like I really had to go and give everything in the second run,” said Shiffrin, who won the previous GS in Courchevel 10 days ago.
“I am so happy with first place,” said Brignone, who has been dealing with adductor problems. She returned early from a preseason training camp in South America and sat out the start of the World Cup season.
“I couldn’t ski or train for a while. I came back in Killington (on Nov. 25) and from then on I am feeling better every day.”
This was her sixth career win, and fourth in GS.
French world champion Tessa Worley trailed by 0.26 in fourth. Former overall champions Lara Gut of Switzerland and Anna Veith of Austria, who both returned from knee injuries this season, finished 10 and 21st, respectively.
Brignone said her injury was still hampering her.
“For now, I can ski at least,” she said. “I have to focus on the few runs I can do. I was training with my family, my dad and my brother, before this race. Now I am relaxed.”
Chasing her first win on Austrian snow since taking the season-opener in Soelden two years ago, Brignone said she “didn’t feel so good at the start” of her first run, which she finished 0.17 off Rebensburg’s leading time.
“The slope is very tough and it was a little bit bumpy but I knew I had to charge all the way down,” she said about her winning second run.
Brignone denied Rebensburg a third win of the season after the German took the first two giant slaloms in Soelden and Killington. Rebensburg has earned 13 of her 15 career World Cup wins in GS.
Defending her slim lead from the opening run, the 2010 Olympic champion lost just too much time as she wasn’t clean in the steep middle section of the course.
“It was tough to race, it was pretty dark,” Rebensburg said. “It was very tight, just a few hundredths. But it was a solid race, I could have done better on a few spots but you have to be satisfied with a second place.”
Shiffrin said she felt pretty good on the surface in the second run.
“It was a little bumpy here and there,” she said. “It was OK, but it was tough in just a couple of spots that were really important. Otherwise I had a lot of fun skiing it actually.”
Rebensburg overtook Shiffrin atop the GG discipline standings. After four races, the German has 298 points, 13 clear of the American.
However, Shiffrin will enter 2018 as the clear overall World Cup leader with 881 points, 371 ahead of the German.
“I’m really excited about the way that I’m going with my skiing and my confidence and mentality,” Shiffrin said.
Shiffrin now heads into a busy period of racing, with the next race coming in Oslo, Norway, on New Year’s Day.
“We all saw the schedule this year and we know that it’s going to be busy now so there’s not a lot of time for rest,” Shiffrin said. “But I’m for sure motivated for these races.”
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