Shiffrin and Vonn finish top 15 in GS |

Shiffrin and Vonn finish top 15 in GS

Melanie Wong
Mikaela Shiffrin stretches for the finish line during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships women's giant slalom in Beaver Creek on Thursday. Shiffrin finished eighth.
Townsend Bessent | |

BEAVER CREEK — Thursday’s giant slalom marked the first race of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships for slalom specialist Mikaela Shiffrin and the last race for downhill champion Lindsey Vonn. Both ended the day having notched solid top 15 finishes, with Shiffrin in eighth and Vonn in 14th. Other Americans in the mix included Julia Mancuso in 26th and Megan McJames in 34th.

Shiffrin speed training

Both Shiffrin and Vonn came back from disappointing first-round runs to climb back into the standings in their second run. Shiffrin, who says she’s been speed training is still looking for consistent results in the giant slalom. She ran a conservative first run, followed by a solid, fast second run that was only marred by an off-balanced turn on Redtail Jump.

“I know I have more speed in me. It’s just about getting the confidence to put my best runs out on the hill and keep looking for speed each turn. (On my first run,) I had a couple turns where I scrubbed speed,” Shiffrin said.

The slalom champion said she’s been dedicating some time to speed training, and that her next step is transferring that speed from training to competition.

“I feel like my skiing right now is actually way better than that (run) was. That was my old skiing coming out because I wasn’t sure of myself,” she said. “I felt like my second run was quite a bit better. I was attacking more, I found my line a little bit better, I found the grooves a little bit better, but I have some work to do in the flats for sure.”

She admitted to being slightly uncomfortable on some of the blind jumps, saying that she backed off after bobbling at Redtail.

“I kind of took my foot off the gas to make sure I stayed in the course, but it was really straight down there. I should have just pinned it,” she said.

Shiffrin will be gearing up for her big race in women’s slalom on Saturday, for which she is a favorite.

Vonn returns to GS

Vonn was competing in her first giant slalom in more than two years, enjoying the speed of the wide-open course. While she didn’t find the redemption she was seeking after a disappointing week of speed events, she managed to come from a 2.67-second deficit after the first round to put down one of the top five fastest runs of the second round. In the first round, Vonn had a major misstep midway down the course that nearly brought her to a complete stop.

“That was the goal, to ski that way in the first run, but I just made a big mistake on the pitch, and I had too much ground to make up. But I kept fighting, and didn’t give up. I knew I could get in the top 15, and I did that,” she said, adding that there will be more GS racing in her future. “It may not have been my best performance, but I’m still taking away some positives from it and looking forward to Maribor (the World Cup race in Slovenia) and the rest of the technical GS places.”

Vonn struggled through some of the Championships with a sore knee that she said was exacerbated by icy conditions, as well as some equipment troubles. Still, she said she’s very proud of her super-G bronze and enjoyed racing for the home crowd.

“I think I wanted to do well too much. Things just didn’t work out, and no matter how hard I tried it wasn’t working. I’m still happy with these World Championships,” said Vonn, who lives in Vail. “I’m honored to be racing in front of my home crowd. I’m still leaving here with a very special feeling. Even though I didn’t get as many medals as everyone was expecting me to, I’m still happy with my performance.”

Wrapping up the Champs

The giant slalom was also the last race of the Championships for Mancuso. She said she plans to either find some powder skiing or head to Maui to rest for a few days before returning to the World Cup circuit.

“It was definitely a lot of fun competing. I didn’t have the best results, but I had a lot of fun watching the other athletes compete,” she said. “When you cross the finish line, you always have that moment of your own expectations, but I’ve been able to also just be a fan and watch the other girls perform.”

McJames, 27, is a Park City, Utah, native who was competing in her third World Championships. The tech skier trains and travels apart from the U.S. Ski Team and arrived at Beaver Creek as one of the top racers on the national circuit.

“It wasn’t my best run,” she said after her first round. “But coming in this event third in the country and not being part of the team, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

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