Mikaela Shiffrin wins giant slalom World Cup in Semmering, Austria to claim her 78th career win
American's fourth win of the season increases lead in overall standings
Mikaela Shiffrin is closing out 2022 by closing in on Lindsey Vonn.
The Edwards skier, fresh of World Cup win No. 77 in the St. Moritz (Dec. 18) super-G, claimed her 78th-career victory in the giant slalom Tuesday in Semmering, Austria, inching closer to Vonn’s all-time women’s record of 82. Ingemar Stenmark (86) has the overall Alpine wins record. Petra Vlhova finished 0.13 behind the American in second and Italy’s Marta Bassino rounded out the podium in third.
“Yeah I mean the start of the weekend with three races is always a bit nerve-wracking,” Shiffrin told FIS media at the finish line. “You hope that you’re in the right shape and you can bring the right intensity for the start and I felt really good today so it was just pushing.”
The Edwards skier was nearly flawless in the first run of the day, where she sped down the 45-gate Panorama course in 1 minute, 5.49 seconds. Her smooth navigation of the 315-meter drop course, where she posted the fastest splits in three-of-four sectors, gave her a 0.72-second gap on Vlhova in second.
In addition to Vlhova, a familiar cast of characters was stalking Shiffrin. Last year’s giant slalom crystal globe winner Tessa Worley, looking for World Cup giant slalom win No. 17 to break a tie for second all-time with Annemarie Moser-Pröll, was 0.73 seconds behind Shiffrin in third. Bassino (1:06.36), winner of the most recent giant slalom in Sestriere on Dec. 10, was in fourth and Sara Hector (1:06.45), the 2022 Olympic gold medalist in the event, was fifth. Federica Brignone (1:06.47) and Lara Gut-Behrami (1:06.47) remained in contention as well.
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Hector, who won three of the four giant slaloms last year en route to a second-place finish in the discipline standings and has been on eight of the last 11 giant slalom podiums, couldn’t find the speed of the earlier competitors at the top of the course, continued to drop time in the middle and fell into eighth place.
Bassino, who came into the event leading the giant slalom standings, kicked her Italian teammate Federica Brignone out of the leader’s chair with a blistering second run (it would hold up as the second-fastest) as the final three athletes waited at the top.
“I’m really happy about my skiing today. It was not so easy because of the snow because it was bumpy,” Bassino said.
At 33, Worley was looking to become the oldest giant slalom winner on the World Cup (Anita Wachter who was 32 years and 319 days old when she claimed her last World Cup giant slalom victory, in Lienz in 1999). A few mistakes in the second sector slipped her behind Brignone; she would ultimately finish in fourth.
Vlhova, the winner of the last World Cup giant slalom held in Semmering back in 2018 recaptured some of the magic and celebrated at the finish as she moved into first, pleasing a healthy contingent of Petra fans at the bottom.
“Yes of course I feel it all the time,” she told a reporter who asked Vlhova if she could sense the fan support.
Up at the top, the tension and nerves were building as Shiffrin heard the announcer — speaking in English — relay athletes’ times. “So, it’s not just going in the background in my head, it’s really getting into my head,” she laughed. “I was thinking, just ignore it.”
Out of the gate, Shiffrin gained 0.15 seconds in the first sector, time which would prove critical. She appeared to ski conservatively through the middle sections, coming up out of her low position between gates as she ceded time.
Watching from the base, Vlhova started to think the win might be hers.
“When you see the timing is slower and slower, you hope that you’ll be first position,” she told FIS reporters about what was going through her mind as she watched the American lose time at each turn.
Around one gate in the middle of the course, which was set up by American coach Magnus Andersson, her left hand rose high above her helmet as she fought to maintain her balance. Despite giving up another 0.24 seconds in the final sector, Shiffrin held on for win No. 78.
“The second one was a little bit wild sometimes but I felt like skis were running, and yeah I really enjoy racing here,” Shiffrin, who moved into fifth place in the giant slalom standings, said immediately after the run.
- Mikaela Shiffrin, USA – 2:07.18
- Petra Vlhova, SVK – 2:07:31
- Marta Bassino, ITA – 2:07.49
- Tessa Worley, FRA – 2:07.66
- Federica Brignone, ITA – 2:08.43
- Ragnhild Mowinckel, NOR – 2:08.56
- Lara Gut-Behrami, SUI – 2:08.61
- Sara Hector, SWE – 2:08.70
- Alice Robinson, NZL – 2:08.91
- Paula Moltzan, USA – 2:08.99
In 2021-2022, Shiffrin only found the podium once in seven giant slalom participations. Prior to Tuesday, her most recent victory in the event came on Dec. 21, 2021 in Courchevel, France. She’s had some success in Semmering, however, winning back-to-back giant slalom’s on Dec. 27 and 28 in 2016 as well as two slalom events at the venue (in 2016 and 2018).
“GS is one of the hardest events for me, but also when I’m skiing well, then it feels just amazing. I felt like my skiing was really good to me,” she said.
“It’s not easy to win these races. With a big lead after the first run, the other women, they pushed so hard, they were able to come back almost right away. I never thought for sure I was going to win today, so I had to fight for it.”
Vlhova said she was “satisfied” with her second run, “because I wanted to do exactly what I did.”
“Tomorrow I have to be faster,” she concluded. When asked what it takes to bring down Shiffrin, Bassino added, “Tomorrow is another chance. Every race is different, so we start at zero and we try to attack tomorrow and we will see.”
Tomorrow is another chance. Every race is different, so we start at zero and we try to attack tomorrow and we will see.”
Tuesday’s victory pushed the 27-year-old into a 205-point lead in the overall standings. Sofia Goggia (470) trails in second and Vlhova (420) is in third.
As far as the rest of the Americans go, Stella Johansson failed to qualify for a second run, finishing in 43rd, while Nina O’Brien, Katie Hensien and Ava Sunshine posted DNFs in the first run. Paula Moltzan finished in 10th, moving up three places with a strong second run.
- Mikaela Shiffrin, USA – 675
- Sofia Goggia, ITA – 470
- Petra Vlhova, SVK – 420
- Wendy Holdener, SUI – 384
- Corinne Suter, SUI – 334
- Elena Curtoni, ITA – 306
- Lara Gut-Behrami, SUI – 291
- Ragnhild Mowinckel, NOR – 289
- Sara Hector, SWE – 279
- Marta Bassino, ITA – 275
Events continue in Semmering with another giant slalom on Wednesday and a slalom Thursday.