Mikaela Shiffrin finishes third; Bassino wins Vermont GS
Shiffrin widens World Cup lead
Mikaela Shiffrin has finished three World Cup races and has a medal of every color for her efforts.
Shiffrin moved up two spots with her second run to finish third in Saturday’s World Cup giant slalom in Killington, Vermont, behind Italy’s Marta Bassino and Federica Brignone.
Shiffrin took second in the Solden, Austria, GS in October, and won the season-opening slalom in Levi, Finland, last week. In a post-race interview with NBC Sports Network, she said she was pleased with her performance.
“It was a lot better,” Shiffrin said of her second run. “I felt way smother. It was so close with a short course. … My consistency is good. I’m so happy to have a podium.”
Bassino captured her first World Cup win with a combined time of 1 minute, 38.19 seconds with Brignone 26-hundredths of seconds behind, followed by Shiffrin (29-hundredths).
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Shiffrin and the field have a slalom race on Sunday with runs at 7:45 and 11 a.m. Shiffrin is 3-for-3 in winning in that discipline since the World Cup has had a stop in Killington.
She hasn’t been too bad in the Killington giant slalom during the last four years. Shiffrin has now finished fifth-second-fourth and third in this race. She upped her World Cup lead with 240 points, more than a full race ahead of Switzerland’s Wendy Holdender (128), Brignone (125) and Bassino (122).
Hard as it may be to believe, the three-time defending World Cup champion is actually ahead of her pace — 240 to 210 through three races — of last season when she finished with 2,204, the second-most points earned in one season (Tina Maze, Croatia, 2,414 in 2012-13).
With winds gusting from 20-25 mph, race organizers moved both runs of the giant slalom down to the reserve start, and a melee for top 10 spots ensued.
Said top 10 was all within a second of Bassino, the first-run leader as well.
“It was a total sprint,” Shiffrin said to NBC Sports Network. “There’s no holding back.”
Aside from Bassino, whose World Cup best was second in a combined in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on Jan. 26, 2018, the leaderboard was pretty much a who’s who of women’s skiing.
Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova was second; Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin, the 2018 Olympic combined champion, third; France’s Tessa Worley fourth; Shiffrin fifth; Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg sixth; Brignone seventh, and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener eighth.
Brignone had the fastest second-run time with a time of 48.81 seconds, and Shiffrin was the second-fastest as the two surged onto the podium behind Bassino.
Yes, it’s still early to be looking at the World Cup points, but if one doesn’t look now, it might be too late. Not only is Shiffrin ahead of her pace last season, but she’s gaining on key rivals for the overall and giant-slalom crown.
FIS-Ski.com reported that New Zealand’s Alice Robinson, who beat Shiffrin in Soelden giant slalom, would miss Killington. Apparently, that was news to Robinson, who was in Vermont and DNF’d. With Robinson skiing out during the first run, Shiffrin gained 60 points on her rival, who turns 18 today.
Shiffrin (140 points) holds a slim lead over Brignone (125) and Bassino (120) in the giant-slalom race. But looking back at her closest pursuers from last season for the title, Vlhova, second in GS last season, is sitting on 58 points and already 92 points behind Shiffrin.
Shiffrin leads Worley, third in GS last year, by 35 points and Rebensburg, fourth place, by 84 points.
The overall World Cup points race is also looking good already for Shiffrin. With 240 points, Shiffrin leads Holdener by 112 points. Yes, it’s only three races into the season, but Shiffrin has already has a one-race lead — one wins 100 points for a race victory — over her nearest rival.
Brignone is third at 125, and she or teammate Bassino (fourth with 122) might be new competitors this season. Time will tell. Yet last year, Shiffrin’s closest competition for the overall was Vhlova, who is off to a slow start so far. Shiffrin leads the Slovakian, 240-58.
This story will be updated.