New Zealand teenager Alice Robinson edges Mikaela Shiffrin to win World Cup opener
SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — New Zealand teenager Alice Robinson edged Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin to win the World Cup season-opening giant slalom on Saturday.
Robinson, who trailed Shiffrin by 0.14 seconds after the opening run, was one-fifth of a second faster than the American in the final run. She won her first World Cup race in only her 11th start.
Tessa Worley of France, who won the race last year, was 0.36 behind in third.
The 17-year-old Robinson, who is working with former Lindsey Vonn coaches Chris Knight and Jeff Fergus, won the junior world title in GS in February. She left her mark at the World Cup Finals the following month, when she finished runner-up to Shiffrin in the last race of the season.
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It was the first women’s World Cup giant slalom win by a skier from New Zealand.
“I was a little bit nervous but I tried to keep myself calm, just trying to enjoy it all,” Robinson said about her second run.
Robinson had been the only racer to stay close to Shiffrin in the opening run, while pre-race favorites like Federica Brignone, Worley or Viktoria Rebensburg were at least 0.86 off the lead.
The victory came on only her third points-scoring top-30 finish, with Saturday’s result proving that Robinson’s achievement earlier this year had been no fluke.
“I think I proved that wasn’t a one-off so I am happy with that,” Robinson told The Associated Press after her opening run.
Shiffrin was full of praise for her rival, who, like Shiffrin in 2011, won her first World Cup race at age 17.
“You could see it last year that Alice is going to be really strong,” Shiffrin said. “It’s super cool and really exciting. She skied really solid so it’s awesome.”
Robinson started cooperating with Knight and Fergus in 2018, the same year she made her World Cup debut in Slovenia.
She is working full-time with the American coaches since joining the International Ski Racing Academy, which Knight and Fergus set up in the Dolomites, with Val di Fassa and San Pellegrino as main training venues.
Brignone, who was third after the opening run, finished 0.87 behind in fifth, ending up one place behind Norway’s Mina Fuerst Holtmann, who had her best World Cup result.
Bernadette Schild of Austria was hospitalized by helicopter after badly crashing and apparently injuring her left knee.
A men’s giant slalom on the same course is scheduled for Sunday.
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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.