Shiffrin gets super-G silver, ties record for most Alpine world championship medals
Bassino wins gold to give Italy it's second win in two races
Stakes and storylines are built into any starting gate Mikaela Shiffrin gets behind. So are records.
In Wednesday’s super-G, the narrative revolved around seeking redemption for straddling the third-to-last gate just meters from combined gold in this week’s first World Alpine Ski Championships event. It was also about confirming to herself she isn’t under any global championship curse.
“The last two or four weeks — well really the last year — but especially in the last few weeks — I must have answered a hundred questions about these world championships and basically if I’m worried if it’s going to be the same as the Olympics. If I’m worried about the disappointment — if I’m afraid of it,” Shiffrin said in a post-race press conference.
“You get asked the same thing again and again and it’s so hard to keep the balance in your mind to answer this question and still be positive and still think, ‘I can do this. I can ski my best, I can make it to the finish.’”
“And then after the combined I was like, ‘you have got to be kidding me,’” she continued, chuckling.
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“My DNF rate right now in my entire career, over 50% is at the Olympics or world championships… It’s almost funny, and it’s only funny because I was able to win a medal today.”
That medal: super-G silver.
Shiffrin ended up 0.11 seconds behind Italian gold medalist Marta Bassino and 0.22 clear of Cornelia Huetter and Kajsa Vikhoff Lie, who tied for third.
The hardware, however, failed to capture the deeper significance of Shiffrin’s rebound performance.
“I mean it’s important just alone. Then, of course, it’s very special after the combined day, but they’re totally different days. I’m even more proud of today now because in the combined, if I finished, and if I got a medal there, it was because of my slalom,” said the Edwards skier, who knew her super-G from Monday was “not good enough to be on the top step or get a medal for this race.”
“So the last 48 hours I had to completely change my mentality, look at this hill in a different way — the visualization, the analyzing video, everything — to try to bring it back in the right level, the right skiing for this race.”
Bassino, who wore bib No. 8 and went right before Shiffrin, was unable to leverage the flatter upper course to her advantage but took more risks in the technically demanding middle section of the Roc de Fer course — which was roughly 15-seconds longer than the setup for the super-G portion of Monday’s combined. Her finishing time of 1 minute, 28.06 seconds was good enough to put her in the leader’s chair, but the 26-year-old two-time Olympian wasn’t particularly comfortable watching her generation’s most dominant skier take to the slope moments later.
“Today I just did a great last part because I lost a lot of time in the first part,” Bassino was quoted in SkiRacing.com. “I was really suffering watching all the other girls coming down. I’m really happy and confident in myself, it’s really a great result for me.”
At the fourth interval, Shiffrin was 0.15 seconds ahead of Bassino’s 1:10.76 time. The Italian’s aggressive skiing on the bottom of the course proved decisive; her final sector was the fastest on the day. Still, a tearful Shiffrin was pleased at the finish line.
“I’m emotional because I don’t really feel like I should be winning a medal in super-G right now,” she said. Her World Cup resume — a win and a seventh — justify the surprise.
“There are so many women who are strong and fast.”
In the press conference that followed, Shiffrin elaborated on her 12th worlds medal, tying her with Kjetil Andre Aamodt for the most individual event medals in the modern era. Her remarks were less centered on any record, though, and more about stepping back onto a global championship podium.
“The pressure’s not off — but there’s for sure a little bit of relief, but it’s also so exciting. I didn’t really believe I could ski this track the way that I did ski it,” she said.
“So that’s a struggle for an athlete. The struggle between what you want to do and your own doubts that you have the ability to do it. And in the start gate, I was fighting this in my own mind, like, ‘can I do it? I don’t know? Probably not…hopefully…we’ll see.’”
Shiffrin required just 15 starts to match Aamodt, 12 less than the Norwegian. The overall record of 13 medals is held by Anja Parson, who won two in team events. Another record to track (because there aren’t enough) as Shiffrin competes in the giant slalom and slalom on Feb. 16 and 17, respectively, is the all-time world championships gold medal count (7), which she is one away from tying.
Speaking of records, Shiffrin, who has spent most of the season chasing the Lindsey Vonn and now Ingemar Stenmark all-time World Cup wins carrots, woke up to a news alert this morning notifying her of Lebron James passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time NBA points list. A reporter asked Shiffrin if she could draw any comparisons between James’ chase and her own pursuits.
“It’s another example of incredible accomplishments happening in sport that will continue to drive future generations to try to reset the boundaries, reset the records and keep pushing the level of sports, whether it’s skiing or basketball,” she said. “For me, it symbolizes this concept that we keep working harder and trying to do better.”
In super-G, Shiffrin has a medal of every color and is one of two skiers (Hermann Maier being the other) to make the super-G podium at three consecutive world championships. Though she will not compete in Saturday’s downhill, Bassino’s teammate Sofia Goggia, the Olympic downhill champion, is a favorite to make it three golds from three races for the Italian women’s team.
“Great, now the pressure is on me,” Goggia was quoted saying in SkiRacing.com. “First Fede (Federica Brignone), then Marta and let’s see.”