Mikaela Shiffrin wins slalom silver to close out world championships with three individual medals
American gives up big lead in second run as Canadian St. Germain pulls upset from bib No. 18
Mikaela Shiffrin stands alone on yet another all-time list. But, she fell just short of a different one Saturday.
Shiffrin took the silver in the final women’s event — the slalom — at the 2023 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships in Meribel, France on Saturday morning, claiming her 14th career individual world championships medal, the most in the modern era. She did, however, miss a golden chance at winning her eighth-career world championship gold, which would have given her the most in the modern era.
“Today was incredible,” Shiffrin told U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s Courtney Harkins. “It was such a joy to race today, especially after the last two weeks and everything that has happened. … I was so happy with my first run and really happy with a lot of sections on my second run. Here and there, I backed off a little bit and it’s not enough for gold. And Laurence — what an exciting day for the Canadian team! Really really happy for them.”
Canadian Laurence St. Germain, who has never made a World Cup podium in her eight-season career and has just two top-10 finishes in slaloms in 2023, pulled the upset from bib No. 18. The 28-year-old took the win with a combined time of 1 minute, 43.15 seconds. Shiffrin had a 0.61-second advantage over St. Germain going into her final run, but finished 0.57 seconds back. Germany’s Lena Duerr rounded out the podium.
“I don’t know, I was really not expecting this obviously. It’s unbelievable,” said the 28-year-old St. Germain, who was an All-American at the University of Vermont.
Support Local Journalism
It was vintage Shiffrin on the first run on the Roc de Fer slope, which had its 63 gates set up in a flowing, rhythmical course by U.S. coach Mark Mitter. With temperatures hovering around 0-degrees Celsius and sunny skies, Shiffrin went first and gained a 0.19-second advantage over Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener.
“A bit lucky with bib 1, I think. I had a very good run, too,” Shiffrin said after the first run. “Every second with the sun, it gets a little softer. And already when I went there was some tracks.”
The gap was 0.61 back to the third-place skier, St. Germain. The other pre-race contenders of note — defending Olympic slalom champion Petra Vlhova and defending world champion Katharina Liensberger of Austria — sat 0.99 and 1.70 seconds off the pace.
“I was definitely kind of holding my breath for quite a few of the women because there are so many who are fast this season,” Shiffrin added.
Skiing second-to-last, Holdener — who appeared to be the only athlete capable of challenging Shiffrin all day — was charging throughout her final run before her right ski caught a gate, resulting in a DNF. Suddenly, Shiffrin was gifted a 0.61-second cushion over St-Germain. Considering Shiffrin has won four world titles and 52 World Cup victories in the event, one could be forgiven for assuming the 27-year-old would emerge victorious.
In the top section, however, the American gave back 0.45-seconds, skiing the slowest opening segment of any in the final 30. In the second split, she gained one-hundredth back, but gave up another 0.37 seconds to fall 0.20 back after three. St. Germain’s strength had been the bottom section, and Shiffrin was ultimately unable to pull back any time in her signature event.
“For me, it wasn’t the conditions; it was the end of two weeks,” Shiffrin said. “If I’m a little bit tired, I cannot move quick enough in slalom. I can move quick enough, of course, I have a silver medal, but somebody can move faster. I know how I want to ski it, but I didn’t execute it the whole way from top to bottom so it’s not enough for gold. You can lose a second so fast.”
The consolation prize for the Edwards athlete was that she did become the first skier, male or female, to claim at least six world championship medals in one event (she won slalom titles in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 and took a bronze in 2021 before Saturday’s silver). Shiffrin ends her world championships with three medals (one gold and two silvers), the third time in her career that she’s taken at least three at a worlds.
She’s found the podium in 14 of her 17 world championship races. In the other three, she placed sixth and eight (in the 2013 and 2015 giant slaloms) and skied out of the Alpine Combined — while holding the lead — in the first event this year.
The World Cup picks back up Feb. 23-26 with speed events in Crans Montana, Switzerland. Shiffrin is currently one win away from tying Ingemar Stenmark (86) for the most World Cup wins by any male or female Alpine skier.