SQUAW VALLEY, Calif.– In contrast to the stereotypical blue skies and sunshine that Squaw Valley is known for in the spring, Friday brought overcast skies, warm temperatures, and soft snow for the women’s World Cup giant slalom at the California resort. Despite the challenging conditions, American phenom Mikaela Shiffrin managed to walk away with the win on home snow with a combined time of 2:16.42 seconds, a scant 0.07 seconds ahead of Italian Federica Brignone in second and and 0.86 seconds ahead of Frenchwoman Tessa Worley in third.
Although drawing bib seven — the highest she could have — in the first run, Shiffrin managed to set the pace by 0.20 seconds ahead of standings leader Worley, who sat second. Bringnone sat in fourth, nearly a full second behind the American.
Second run action saw the temperature continue to rise as early racers had a clear advantage running the course ahead of their faster competitors. Although there were no eye-opening jumps in the standings, the overall margins condensed as the faster racers in from the first run had to contend with a quickly deteriorating surface. Brignone blew the doors off the race with an aggressive yet tactical second run that saw her cross the line with almost a full second advantage as the next two racers could not match her pace with Worley sliding into second with only Shiffrin left in the start. Building on her advantage after the first run in the opening gates, Shiffrin then saw her lead dwindle as she made her way down the demanding Dog Leg pitch and found herself 0.03 seconds behind Bringnone at the final interval before finding time on the final gates and crossing the line for razor-slim win.
Shiffrin credited her time training on the race hill last spring as the deciding factor in her performance and admitted that the level of women’s GS is so high at the moment that in order to walk away with a win, you have to be willing to risk everything.
“I’ve skied this hill before and I’m really lucky, a lot of the girls I’m competing against have not, but I just knew that no matter what hill I’m skiing on, I have to attack like crazy,” she said. “All of these girls are going for wins and I’m so happy with how that went today.”
Although a first run mistake nearly derailed her hopes at a podium, the top Italian left nothing to chance in the second run and nearly walked away with the victory if it were not for Shiffrin’s last-second heroics.
“It’s great, it’s great,” Brignone explained. “I’m really happy. The first run had a big mistake, and I almost stopped and I was really pissed because a slope like this is great, and the snow was not easy for anybody. I was expecting more difficulty, so I didn’t give my 100 percent, so I was really pissed so I said second run, ‘Go hard or go home.’ I was hoping to beat Mikaela for a second, but then I saw she was skiing really, really good, but in front of all of these people, it is amazing.”
Worley admitted to thinking about the prospect of locking up the GS globe with a win on Friday, but was none the less happy, but not satisfied, with her third-place finish. The race for the GS globe now heads to World Cup Finals in Aspen next week to determine the title, with Worley holding an 80-point lead over Shiffrin with one race remaining.
“It’s tough, for sure; the pressure is here and the girls are always fighting very hard and always skiing very fast,” Worley said. “I’m just trying to do run after run and race after race and for sure today is another solid race. I would have liked to do better; every time, for sure, winning is the goal, but third place is still great, podium is still great. One more race and I’ll be fighting hard.”
Apart from Shiffrin’s win, American independent racer Megan McJames managed to finish her World Cup season strong with a 22nd-place finish. Skiing independent of the U.S. Ski Team has its challenges, but McJames managed to channel her love of the sport and end her season on a high note. Resi Stiegler did not qualify for the second run.
“I’m really excited,” said McJames. “I think, for me, it’s really nice to be on home soil. I’ve got lots of support here, so it’s really nice to be in California, close to home and on the West Coast. I think it was remembering why I ski race and to go out there and think about the skiing; work on some technique and tactics but really just going for it and thinking about having fun because that’s why I’ve persevered through these last four years.”
This victory extends Shiffrin’s lead in the World Cup overall standings by 100 points, putting her total at 1423. Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec sits nearly 300 points behind with just 5 races left this season.
The women now race slalom at Squaw Valley on Saturday, March 11.
Check out our gallery from Friday’s race here.
Fans can stay up to date on World Cup by downloading the U.S. Ski Team – Ski Racing app for iOS and Android.
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Federica Brignone (ITA) – Rossignol/Lange/Look
- Tessa Worley (FRA) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Manuela Moelgg (ITA) – Dynastar/Lange/Look
- Ana Drev (SLO) – Voelkl/Fischer/Marker
- Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) – Stoeckli/Lange/Marker
- Sofia Goggia (ITA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Stephanie Brunner (AUT) – Head/Head/Head
- Marta Bassino (ITA) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|22||22||197124||FRASSE SOMBET Coralie||1991||FRA||1:11.99||1:07.54||2:19.53||+3.11||22.34||9.00|
|29||34||425921||HAUGEN Kristine Gjelsten||1992||NOR||1:12.38||1:08.16||2:20.54||+4.12||29.60||2.00|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|21||197319||BAUD MUGNIER Adeline||1992||FRA|