Mikaela Shiffrin wins shocking World Cup finals downhill to extend overall lead
American has 156 point gap on Vlhova with three events to go
The joint scouting report worked well for both Mikaela Shiffrin and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde in Wednesday’s World Cup finals downhill.
The American earned a surprise victory, pushing her lead in the overall cup standings to 156 points, while her Norwegian boyfriend, Kilde, placed fourth, good enough to secure his first downhill discipline globe.
“For me, I was thinking if I could be top 10 or top five that would be great…but to actually win the race is above my expectations,” she told Megan Harrod of U.S. Ski and Snowboard after the win.
“He’s skiing the course, so obviously he knows how it’s feeling…how the surface feels, and we’re talking about skiing a lot, so it’s really pretty easy for me to understand his points,” Shiffrin shared with U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
“From the first training, he said, ‘be smart in these key sections and then just good turns.’ It was just simple and clear. And then I felt very comfortable with where I was going on the track all of the time, so then I felt like I could really push and ski with good intention and timing. It worked perfectly.“
Scheming about skiing is a regular conversation topic for the two.
“I love talking about skiing with Aleks. He’s an amazing skier, so I love to watch him and I love to talk about it with him,” she said.
Kilde’s fourth was just enough to maintain his narrow points lead over Beat Feuz in the downhill standings. The Swiss star had won the last four downhill globes, but finished third Wednesday, 0.54 seconds behind race winner Vincent Kriechmayr.
Starting 21st, Shiffrin gained time in the technical middle section of the Courchevel course. Despite being only her 16th career World Cup downhill start, the 26-year-old looked like a seasoned pro, at least according to a fellow American ski legend.
“Her ability and speed with how little she races it is unbelievable,” said Ted Ligety on the NBC broadcast. “Nobody tucks that well who doesn’t ski that much downhill.” Shiffrin grabbed tucks in all the right places and fought for aerodynamic positioning throughout her run down the 2307-meter Eclipse course.
The result was a 0.10-second victory over tied athletes Christine Scheyer of Austria and Joana Haehlin of Switzerland. Michelle Gisin finished next, 0.14 seconds back.
With her 74th World Cup victory, Shiffrin gained a valuable 100 points to extend her overall lead on her Slovakian rival, Petra Vlhova, who finished 16th — outside of the points by one place. Three races remain, with the super-G going off Thursday morning. Shiffrin is bib 11 while Vlhova will go off 21st.
“I don’t really feel like I’m supposed to be winning downhills,” she reflected with Harrod following her victory.
Shiffrin continued, “Actually, I feel like I’m supposed to not be winning downhills, so it worked out amazing today, and I think I did a really good job with my coaches and the whole team here. They’re all here and fully committed to helping me learn this track and execute it the best possible way.”
Still, the Edwards skier isn’t entertaining any ideas of following Kilde into a chase of the downhill globe.
“Even then, I’m not a downhill skier right now,” she said to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
“I have great pieces, but it takes a lot of thought, a lot of work, a lot of effort…some of the things that come naturally to other women are not coming naturally to me. So I have to remind myself of little things that no one else is having to think about.”