Mikaela Shiffrin’s next stops: Killington GS and slalom
It's not Colorado, but it's home snow
It’s home race week for Mikaela Shiffrin,
It’s definitely home snow for the reigning World Cup champion as Saturday’s giant slalom and Sunday’s slalom in Killington, Vermont, are the only women’s races of the year on American snow. First runs are at 7:45 a.m. with the flips for both days coming at 11 a.m. Colorado time.
It’s the icy East Coast snow she trained on while working here way up the ranks of Burke Mountain Academy.
With this being the fourth year of World Cup racing in Vermont, Shiffrin will have a boisterous crowd behind her.
And Shiffrin has quite the record in Killington.
Madame is 3-for-3 in slaloms in Killington and has gone fifth-second-fourth in the GS.
Within the technical disciplines, giant slalom has been the work in progress compared to slalom. Within the realm of general success, this is all relative for Shiffrin.
France’s Tessa Worley won the 2016 GS with Norway’s Nina Loeseth in second and Italy’s Sofia Goggia in third. That last is a bit of a blast from the past as Goggia is now a speedster after a broken ankle in 2018.
In 2017, Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg edged Shiffrin by 0.67 seconds with Italy’s Manuela Moelgg, now retired, in third.
Federica Brignone (Italy), Ragnhild Mowinckel (Norway and out for the season) and Stephanie Brunner (Austria ) were the podium last year.
Looking at Saturday, these are the names at which one should be looking.
Do note that New Zealand’s Alice Robinson, who won the season-opening GS in Soelden, Austria, will not be in the field. She competed quite well in Austria on a wonky knee and announced that she is out this weekend.
This gives Shiffrin a chance to take the lead this weekend in the giant-slalom globe hunt.
In Soelden, Shiffrin was second, Worley third, Brignone fifth, Rebensburg 13th, Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova 14th, and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener 15th.
Shiffrin, Vlhova, Worley, Rebensburg, Brignone, and Holdener are the top six, in that order, among active GS racers from last year.
Here’s a fun stat. According to the U.S. Ski Team, Shiffrin has won 41 of 70 World Cup slalom starts in her career. She has won 58.5 percent of her slalom races back to when she was 15. That’s downright annoying.
It’s even more annoying — in a good way — that she didn’t win in her first 13 slalom starts because she clearly was a slacker.
Since Dec. 20, 2012, her first win in Are, Sweden. she’s won 41 of 57 World Cup slaloms. (Again, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships — 4-for-4 in slalom, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 — as well as a win in the 2014 Olympics, don’t count in these numbers.)
In 2016, she won the Killington slalom with Croatia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova in second and Holdener in third. (More fun trivia: As good as Holdener is, the Swiss skier has never won a World Cup slalom.)
In 2017, Shiffrin mopped the floor, beating Vlhova by 1.64 seconds and Austria’s Bernadette Schild by 2.67 ticks in Vermont.
Last year was tighter with Shiffrin, Vlhova (plus 0.57) and Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter.
We will write it over and over. Shiffrin is the favorite in any slalom race she enters on this blue dot.
The big thing to watch for Killington is how Vlhova responds after DNF’ing in the final run of the day last weekend in Levi, Finland, giving Shiffrin the win.
Yes, it’s way to early to look at the 2019-20 World Cup points, but Shiffrin (180) leads Robinson (100) and Holdener (96). By getting down the hill twice in Saturday’s GS, Shiffrin will pass the Kiwi in GS points.
If Shiffrin can win both — a stretch, but not an outrageous ask — she can start to put a bunch of space between her and the field in pursuit of her fourth overall World Cup title.
Not that anyone’s counting, but Shiffrin has won on consecutive days eight times during her career, the first time in Aspen on Nov. 28-29, 2015 (two slaloms) and last in Soldeu, Andora, last spring at the World Cup finals on March 16-17 with slalom and GS.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.