Mikaela Shiffrin wins World Cup giant slalom in Courchevel, reclaims overall lead
Shiffrin earns her 72nd career World Cup win
Mikaela Shiffrin posted two dominant runs to secure her 14th career World Cup victory in giant slalom on Tuesday morning in Courchevel, France, taking the top spot of the podium by 0.86 seconds. It was Shiffrin’s sixth career win at the French course and third of the season. Sweden’s Sarah Hector and Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin rounded out the podium.
“Today was really a quite difficult day, and after the last weeks, pushing the schedule hard, it’s been a lot just to get here, and we’re just starting this next tech block. I’m not full tank right now,” Shiffrin told FIS reporters immediately after the race. “I felt like I skied some of my best skiing and some of my toughest skiing today.”
When asked if the return to Courchevel had a different type of emotional meaning for the American, whose win here last December was the first since the passing of her dad. She pointed to the emotional value the podium placements meant to her competitors, Gisin and Hector, who have battled through injuries recently.
“I think it’s more emotional for Sarah and Michelle after a really tough summer,” she said. “It’s just really impressive to see both of them skiing like that and it wasn’t easy for anybody.”
All of the big players in the race for the World Cup overall title were present on Tuesday morning in France. Sofia Goggia came into the race as the overall leader after having won five World Cup events in the previous 17 days. Shiffrin, coming into the race in second in the overall standings behind Goggia, was the victor in the only other giant slalom contested on the year in Soelden, Austria, back in October.
In the first run, Shiffrin outclassed the field, ripping through the 47-gate course in 1:05.55, 0.74 seconds ahead of the second fastest skier, Gisin. Defending overall champion Petra Vlhova sat in sixth place, 1.39 seconds back, after her first run. The rivalry between Vlhova and Shiffrin was stoked after back-and-forth slalom wins in the opening World Cup stops, with Shiffrin having the last laugh at the Killington World Cup, where she won the slalom for a fifth consecutive year. Goggia was in 10th after run No. 1, 1.75 back of the American.
“I think I have a pretty good tactics for skiing the hill with an aggressive mindset. I really skied that how I wanted to ski it,” Shiffrin told the Associated Press after the first run.
“I tried to be as clean as I could with the better surface because I think it could get bumpy in the second,” she added.
In the second run, Paula Moltzan, a Ski and Snowboard Club Vail alum, posted the fastest time, which held up until her teammate, another Edwards local, Nina O’Brien, ripped through in 1:10.72 to bump her off by 0.16 seconds. O’Brien didn’t stay on the top of the podium for long, getting bumped off by Switzerland’s Camille Rast. Those athletes who went first on run No. 2 may have been at a slight advantage, as the course began to deteriorate slightly.
Goggia was a late-start victim, losing control in the middle sector while holding onto a 0.97 second lead before floating on one ski off of the course. The speed specialist, who has won her last seven downhill races, would move into second place in the overall standings after the DNF.
Vlhova put the pressure on Shiffrin, moving over hometown favorite Tessa Worley by 0.42 seconds in her second run. Vlhova made her return to the World Cup on Tuesday after spending an extended training camp at Copper Mountain, electing to skip the two super-G races in St. Moritz.
Hector, a 13-year World Cup veteran with only one individual World Cup victory, raced a perfect run from bib No. 13 to take the top spot away from Vlhova by 0.58 seconds.
After Gisin raced into second, it was down to Shiffrin. She raced cleanly and aggressively, posting the second-fastest final run of the day — behind only Gisin — to handily claim the title. Her American teammates, O’Brien, Moltzan, and A.J. Hurt, would finish 15th, 16th and 28th, respectively.
“Tough day. Good day,” she said to FIS reporters after the race. “Good kind of challenge — I’m super happy.”
Shiffrin has 670 points at the top of the overall standings. Goggia sits in second with 635, and Vhova is in third with 390.