Shiffrin ‘super happy’ with Cortina World Cup downhill run, finishes fourth
Another downhill is scheduled for Saturday and a super-G is on Sunday
Special to the Daily
CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — Mikaela Shiffrin flirted with victory, leading a downhill race at the first two split times, but ultimately finished fourth, a half-second behind Italian race winner Sofia Goggia.
Record-breaking World Cup victory No. 83 will have to wait, at least until Saturday. Shiffrin said she was more than satisfied with her descent of the Olympia delle Tofane track, in the discipline in which she trains the least.
“I felt very good, super strong everywhere, executing the line, and totally on point today,” Shiffrin said in the Cortina finish area. “I didn’t have a chance to check the splits yet, and I’m very interested to see the video.”
The Edwards resident led Goggia at the first two split times, including by three-tenths just 20 seconds into the race. She ultimately gave away time on the lower, twisting section of the Olympia delle Tofane course. Shiffrin left the start gate No. 21, 14 spots after Goggia, hurtling down a speedy 1.65-mile track on a spectacular, sun-drenched day in the Italian Dolomites. Her time was 1:33.97.
“I’m a bit relieved because I saw that the times today, compared to yesterday, were two seconds faster,” Shiffrin said, referring to Thursday’s training run. “I wasn’t sure I could go that much faster — I’m like this is going to be one of those days where I’m the only person who doesn’t get two seconds faster,” she said with a laugh.
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“I got to the finish and was like ‘wow,’ that wasn’t bad and I’m super happy with that.”
The 30-year-old Goggia — who crashed here last season, just three weeks before the Beijing Olympics — charged to a downhill victory for the fourth time in five races this season. The extroverted Italian fan favorite eloquently expressed that she was a bit nervous watching Shiffrin descend the mountain.
“I was s—ting my pant of course, I was s—ing my pants, but that’s life,” Goggia said, as she scurried off from the interview area to the awards ceremony.
Shiffrin has repeatedly stated that she doesn’t expect the record-breaking triumph to come in the fastest and most daring of disciplines. Witnessing her attacking style, leading split times, and confident high-speed skiing, many may disagree with the American racer herself.
“I don’t really believe that I would get 83 in downhill,” she said. “OK, I won a downhill in Courchevel last year, but it was a slower downhill, and one I could work on the turns and had a fresh track that nobody had skied before.”
Shiffrin referred to her third career World Cup downhill win at the season finale in the French Alps resort last March. One day later, she emphatically clinched her fourth overall title with a second-place super-G showing.
Despite the speed racing prowess elevating Shiffrin closer to her ‘GOAT’ status, she still downplays her talent in the sport’s most thrilling discipline.
“If I had expectations, it wouldn’t be for downhill, but it’s certainly hard to come down in fourth, so close, and not think ‘oh maybe I could get on the podium tomorrow,’” she said.
“The trick for me is to put those thoughts out of mind.”
“Breezy” Johnson, like Goggia, sustained a crash in Cortina last season, resulting in a right knee injury that prevented her from competing at the Beijing 2022 Games. The U.S. skier kicked off Friday’s race starting bib number one and sat in the lead for six racers until Goggia bumped her. Johnson finished ninth, 0.78 seconds off the Italian’s winning time.
The Cortina race schedule continues with a second downhill on Saturday, followed by a super-G on Sunday, which many believe is Shiffrin’s best chance to eclipse her current shared record with Lindsey Vonn.
“Bella” Wright silences the Italian crowd
As Goggia was starting her victory celebration, gesturing and joking with admirers on a VIP deck adjacent to the finish area, a sudden silence came over racers, media and fans.
Launching of the 31st start position, Isabella Wright, like Shiffrin, had green lights ahead of Goggia at her first few intervals. The crowd watching below appeared nervous. However, the 25-year-old Utah rising talent made a costly mistake on a turn approaching the lower section of the course. Wright finished 11th.
“I released the ski a little bit too soon over a piece of terrain, it’s as simple as that,” Wright said, about the error.
“I was definitely nervous today, but in a good way — it was a lot of emotions, but in the end I’m proud of the skiing,” she said. “It was a great day and the sun was shining, so I can’t complain.”
Wright, who was second in Thursday’s training run, informed that she was motivated by Shiffrin’s and Johnson’s performances.
“I’m just really excited about my skiing and feel like my teammates and I are really pushing each other. Seeing them ski well today gave me confidence to put down my best run.”
The 25-year-old racer — whose career-best World Cup result was tenth in Crans Montana last season — likes her chances for Saturday’s downhill encore.