Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin takes third in World Cup GS; Vlhova wins | VailDaily.com

Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin takes third in World Cup GS; Vlhova wins

Mikaela all but clinches GS globe

Stop the presses. Mikaela Shiffrin did not win during Friday’s World Cup giant slalom in Spindleruv Mlyn in the Czech Republic.

In her first action on the tour in nearly three weeks, Shiffrin finished third (2 minutes, 25.29 seconds) behind the winner, Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova (2:24.69), and Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg (2:24.80).

While the expectations for Shiffrin have gone beyond ridiculous — not winning a World Cup race prompts questions like, “What’s wrong with Shiffrin?” The really good news on Friday is that the Vail racer all but clinched her first giant slalom World Cup title.

France’s Tessa Worley, Shiffrin’s closest pursuer in the discipline, finished seventh on Friday. With the 60 points from her third-place finish, Shiffrin expanded her GS lead to 97 points over Vlhova and 105 over Worley. For the uninitiated, a racer earns 100 points for World Cup win and there is only one GS race left in the season a week from Sunday in the World Cup Finals in Soldeu, Andorra.

Shiffrin would have to DNF, while Vlhova would need to win for the globe to flip to the Slovakian. For the record, Shiffrin has not DNF’d in a race in more than a year. And since the GS on March 17 will be the last race of the season, Shiffrin’s only goal will be to lock up the globe. She will have the option to ski conservatively and simply finish, allowing her to clinch.

“I think there is still something possible at the finals so I won’t celebrate yet,” Shiffrin told The Associated Press. “But I am really happy to have this kind of advantage.”

Were Shiffrin to win the discipline, she would become only the third American woman to win both the GS and slalom titles in the same season along with Tamara McKinney (1981 and 1983) and Marilyn Cochran (1969).

Not only has Shiffrin already clinched the overall and slalom globes in addition to capturing two gold medals at the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships, but she is likely to break Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider’s record for most wins in a World Cup season (14). Shiffrin has four more chances before the season is done, starting with Saturday’s slalom, also in Spindleruv Mlyn.

Welcome back

Ironically, Shiffrin’s first race on the World Cup tour took place on the Spindleruv Mlyn course back in March 2011 when she was 15.

First World Cup Start – 2011 Špindlerův Mlýn GS

Crazy to think that the last time I skied in Špindlerův Mlýn was eight years ago in 2011 when I was 15 🙈🙈🙈!! Even crazier to think that it was my first World Cup start, and that I've been on the World Cup for 8 YEARS(⁉️). Time flies! Things have changed a little bit since then…🇨🇿😅🥴🙌Giant Slalom tomorrow! Will you be watching?! 4:30am EST – run 1 – OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold7:30am EST – run 2 – Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold12:00pm EST – run 2 – NBCSN

Posted by Mikaela Shiffrin on Thursday, March 7, 2019

The World Cup tour has not returned since. The podium that day back on March 11, 2011, was Rebensburg, Italy’s Denise Karbon and somebody named Lindsey Vonn.

On Friday, Shiffrin started slowly — by her standards — with a first-run time of 1 minute, 13.92 seconds. That left her in fourth place, 1.13 seconds behind Vlhova.

“When I saw the video (from the first run) I was pretty disappointed,” Shiffrin said to AP. “To compete with the best, with Vicky and Petra, I had to do better on everything.”

However, Shiffrin laid down the fastest afternoon time in the field with a 1: 11.37, which allowed her top hop Italy’s Federica Brignone for her 18th podium of the World Cup season in 22 starts.

“The second run was much, much better so I am really happy with that,” Shiffrin said, according to AP. “So happy to have a podium.”

Budding rivalry?

With Shiffrin dominating the World Cup ski scene this season — after Friday’s race, Shiffrin led the overall points, with 1,854 points to Vlhova’s 1,175 — the Slovakian has popped up at some inconvenient moments for the American.

Vlhova, who like Shiffrin is 23, is best known for her slalom skills. Of her 1,175 points on tour this year, Vlhova has 757 in slalom. In fact, Shiffrin has 960 out of a possible 1,000 points in slalom with her only “losses,” both second-place finishes, coming at the hands of Vlhova.

However, Vlhova seems to be stepping up her giant-slal0m game. She has three GS wins — one time tying for a victory with Shiffrin in Maribor, Slovenia on Feb. 1 — this season on the white circus. And she knocked off Shiffrin in GS at worlds in Are, Sweden. In fact, the podium in that race was Vlhova, Rebensburg, and Shiffrin, exactly the order of Friday’s race.

“It was not easy but I did it and it’s something amazing,” said Vlhova, according to AP, loudly cheered by many of her Slovakian fans. “It’s something special because I feel like at home here. Those fans (are) something amazing.”

Shiffrin and Vlhova will likely go at it again on Saturday in the Czech Republic in slalom.