Snow postpones combined, Shiffrin’s 2021 worlds debut
Super-G still set for Tuesday at 5 a.m.
No super-combined for you.
The women’s super-combined, the opening event of the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and Mikaela Shiffrin’s speed debut for the 2020-21 season, was postponed on Monday morning in Cortina, Italy, due to a snowstorm.
Later on Monday, FIS announced that the women’s super-combined would be moved to Monday, Feb. 15. That resulted in some cascading changes to worlds. Tuesday’s women’s super-G moves to 5 a.m. Mountain time with the NBC Sports Network and/or Peacock Premium doing the broadcasting.
The men’s combined remains on Wednesday with the gents’ super-G being moved to Thursday. Monday, Feb. 15 had been a reserve day for such weather.
Weather had already been an issue as worlds were approaching. FIS had already switched the schedule for the women’s super-combined, opting to do slalom first, followed by super-G in the afternoon, hoping to catch a break in the weather, but it was not to be.
It’s not unusual for worlds openers to be postponed. The last two times Vail or Beaver Creek hosted worlds in 1999 and 2015, the women’s super-G was snowed out and rescheduled so Austria’s Alexandra Meissnitzer and Anna (nee Fenninger) Veith, respectively, could win in their years.
The delay adds to the suspense of Shiffrin’s return to speed. She last raced in a super-G on Jan. 26, 2020, in Bansko, Bulgaria, where she won. Her father, Jeff, passed away on Feb. 2, 2020, naturally causing Shiffrin to leave the tour. By the time Shiffrin was ready to return in March 2020 to events in Are, Sweden, COVID-19 emerged, eventually shutting down all sports.
After a summer of limited training due to COVID and with Shiffrin and her family processing her father’s passing, she initially said she would compete in tech events — giant slalom and slalom — only. Around the turn of the calendar, Shiffrin dropped the possibility of competing in speed events and announced she was entering both the worlds combined and the super-G last week.
Shiffrin, though the defending world champion in the super-G and slalom, has struggled by her lofty standard this season. In 10 starts, she has two wins — giant slalom in Courchevel, France, (Dec. 14) and slalom in Flachau, Austria (Jan. 12).
Please keep in mind that “struggling” is really only a relative term when applied to Shiffrin.
Shiffrin, Swtzerland’s Michelle Gisin and Wendy Holdener and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova are among the favorites in the super-combined. Gisin is the defending Olympic champion, while Holdener is the two-time world champ.
While Shiffrin has developed all the skills to be a superb combined skier, she has only started in the discipline three times on the World Cup, winning in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, on Jan. 26, 2017. The only American to win the combined at worlds was Tamara McKinney, who memorably won in Vail in 1989.