Shiffrin races for World Cup slalom globe
A Mikaela, Liensberger, Vlhova podium would do the trick
We may have found the solution for any woes Colorado has when it comes to skiing conditions and snow pack — just host the World Cup finals.
Lenzerheide, Switzerland, is getting pounded with snow that would make any Eagle County powder hound drool, but the weather is just killing what should be dramatic finale to the season.
Too much snow — a philosophical question: Is this such a thing? — has canceled the men’s a women’s downhills and super-Gs, dramatically altering the women’s World Cup chase. Without speed races, Switzerland’s Lara-Gut-Behrami doesn’t have the realistic opportunities to catch Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who will clinch the overall with one top 15 finish in either Saturday’s slalom or Sunday’s giant slalom.
While Vlhova will clinch the big globe simply by pointing her ski tips down the hill, the slalom chase is still up for grabs if they ever start racing in Switzerland.
Vlhova leads at 612 points with Austria’s Katharina Liensberger at 590 and Mikaela Shiffrin at 575. The simplest, and most realistic, permutation for Shiffrin to win the globe is for her to win the slalom Saturday, Liensberger to finish second and Vlhova third.
With 100 points for first, 80 for second and 60 for third, Shiffrin gains 40 points on Vlhova and 20 on Liensberger. Shiffrin is trailing Vlhova by 37 points and Liensberger by 15, so that podium is just perfect for Shiffrin-istas.
This hypothetical podium also has the added benefit of not being pie in the sky. Only five women have been on a World Cup/world championship slalom podium this year (nine races to date) and they are Liensberger (eight times) Shiffrin (seven) Vlhova (six), Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin and Wendy Holdener (three each).
Looking at those stats, a podium of Liensberger, Shiffrin and Vlhova is a mathematical probability. All we need is Liensberger and Shiffrin to switch places.
Ski well, Mikaela, and let the chips fall.
World Cup finals week usually brings a wave of retirements, but less so this March with the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in 11 month.
However, Austrian Hannes Reichelt announced his retirement on Wednesday and we salute him. Now 40, Reichelt was part of the tradition of the Birds of Prey super-G producing first-time winners on the World Cup tour. Some of these winners are answers to trivia questions and never seen again (Norway’s Bjarne Solbakken in 2003, for example).
Reichelt launched a career with his win here on Dec. 1, 2005, the first of three (2007 and 2014) at Beaver Creek, not to mention super-G gold here at the 2015 worlds. Never “the next” great Austrian racer that the ski-crazy nation craves, Reichelt still had the knack to win the big ones.
Keeping in mind that some races are just more equal than others, Reichelt finished with downhill wins in Kitzbuehel, Austria, Wengen, Switzerland,and Garmisch, Germany (twice).
Happy landings, Hannes.