Shiffrin enjoys first-ever parallel GS, looks forward to Bulgaria | VailDaily.com

Shiffrin enjoys first-ever parallel GS, looks forward to Bulgaria

Eagle-Vail ski racing champion says luck played a big factor in new event’s debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, right, and Nina O'Brien pose in the finish area Sunday after both women finished in the top 11 in the inaugural Parallel Giant Slalom event at Sestriere, Italy.
Special to the Daily

Ninth place was good enough to help Mikaela Shiffrin extend her overall lead in the women’s parallel giant slalom Sunday in Sestriere, Italy.

It was the parallel GS’s FIS World Cup debut as an event. Shiffrin boasted the fastest time in the qualifier, but France’s Clara Direz beat her in the round before the quarterfinals. Parallel giant slalom pits competitors against head-to-head. Direz went on to win the event but said she’s not sure about the format.

“I don’t know if it’s really really fair or not,” she said. “I’ve been lucky today because I was always on the blue course for the last runs, so I’ve been a little bit lucky. So I won’t complain about that. I’m pretty happy about winning today, my first World Cups, so I won’t say something bad about that, but yeah.”

Shiffrin said she likes the parallel GS more than the parallel slalom.

“But it’s a little bit difficult,” she said. “There’s still a lot of work we have to do, and FIS has to do, to really make the race as even as it can be. … There’s always a faster course, but today it’s like they’re not even the same course at all. Especially in the last four or five gates on the blue course, you can even see just looking up the hill that it’s straighter than the red course.”

“I don’t normally talk about luck playing a role in the results. … But today, I would say it’s a day where luck really plays a role so you just have to take it and be OK. … All in all, it is fun, and I think people like to watch it — it’s just a work in progress to make the event the best it can be. This event is still in its infancy, it is fun and I see the appeal and excitement, but it’s just how it is. I wasn’t the one to make the red course work today, but there are a couple of girls who are doing that really well, so they’re going to have a really nice race.”

The ninth-place finish extended Shiffrin’s lead in the overall standings, she now has 975 points to second place Petra Vlhová’s 726.

Shiffrin now readies for her first trip to Bansko, Bulgaria, for two downhill races — including a rescheduled race from Val d’Isere, France — and one super-G.

“I’m excited,” Shiffrin said. “It sounds like it’s a fairly technical slope, so it should be really fun, and I’m looking forward to it.”

This story contains material from a U.S. Ski Team press release.