Swirling winds and flat light couldn’t put a damper on American Mikaela Shiffrin as she took a convincing win in the rescheduled Courchevel giant slalom in Semmering, Austria, on Tuesday. Shiffrin’s victory, her first in World Cup giant slalom since tying for the win in Soelden in 2014, came in a two-run time of 2:01.81 seconds, a comfortable 0.78 seconds ahead of Frenchwoman Tessa Worley in second and 1.09 seconds clear of Italy’s Manuela Moelgg in third.
Although skies were mostly clear to start the day, a slope largely in the shadows combined with inconsistent winds provided an interesting challenge for the 70 women who took on the first run. Shiffrin made the icy conditions look easy en route to setting the pace after run one with Moelgg and Worley not far behind. It was tight racing across the board as only 2.03 seconds separated the top-30 competitors after run one.
Austrian star Anna Veith also made her much anticipated return to World Cup action after sitting out the entirety of last season and the first part of this season while she recovered from a torn ACL. Unfortunately for Veith, her skiing was not good enough to qualify for a second run with how close times were.
Weather began to move in as run two got underway, making flat light and light snowfall the name of the game. Several racers managed to take advantage of early start positions and make impressive jumps in the standings, including Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who leapt from 17th place after run one to ultimately end up just off of the podium in fourth.
Worley charged from seventh place to the runner-up spot and Moelgg hung on to her impressive first run performance to finish third when all was said and done. Shiffrin really managed to open things up in the second run, especially with how tight racing had been up until the 21-year-old took to the course. Matching the surging Worley turn-for-turn, Shiffrin held on to virtually all of her first run advantage and crossed the line for only her second career World Cup GS victory.
Shiffrin admitted she has struggled as of late in GS, letting the win slip through her fingers in Sestriere and just not having the same confidence level that she enjoys in her slalom skiing. Tuesday’s result is a step in the right direction, but according to Shiffrin, there is still work to be done.
“It’s been tough in GS for me,” Shiffrin said. “Today, I felt really good just going for it. I wasn’t trying to ski perfect. I was just trying to ski fast. It felt really nice, and I believed in myself for the first time in a GS race and that was very emotional. To win is amazing, but I don’t expect to win every GS now, I’m just trying to go with this feeling.”
Although Worley felt like her first run performance kept her from yet another GS win this season, she was content to walk away with a podium and build on her lead in the discipline standings.
“It was a tough race,” Worley said. “Icy, bumpy, everything I like. Mikaela did a great two runs. I did a bad top section on the first, so I’m really happy with second place and with my second run attacking from top to bottom.”
It was Moelgg’s first podium appearance since 2011 in Zagreb, Croatia. The 33-year-old Italian spent her Christmas holiday training with Shiffrin and has a lot of fight left in her as she looks to the remainder of the season.
“I’ve had a lot of time to come back, but I am here,” she said. “I am not the youngest, but not a bad one.”
Simmering was not as kind to the other two American Starters as Megan McJames did not qualify for run two and Resi Stiegler did not finish her first run.
In addition, Swedish athlete Marie Pietilae-Holmner, who was within striking distance of the podium after first run, took a tumble near the bottom of the second run. While she was able to walk out of the finish on her own, she has been taken to a hospital in Austria for evaluation of her right knee.
The women continue racing in Semmering with a second giant slalom on Wednesday followed by a slalom on Thursday.
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
- Tessa Worley (FRA) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Manuela Moelgg (ITA) – Dynastar/Lange/Look
- Lara Gut (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
- Marta Bassino (ITA) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Ana Drev (SLO) – Voelkl/Fischer/Marker
- Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) – Stoeckli/Lange/Marker
- Petra Vlhova (SVK) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Raghnild Mowinkel (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
- Nina Loeseth (NOR) – Rossignol/Lange/Look
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|11||24||197319||BAUD MUGNIER Adeline||1992||FRA||1:00.96||1:02.60||2:03.56||+1.75||14.08|
|22||30||197124||FRASSE SOMBET Coralie||1991||FRA||1:01.36||1:02.80||2:04.16||+2.35||18.91|
|Did not start 1st run|
|70||35089||SIMARI BIRKNER Macarena||1984||ARG|
|67||35079||SIMARI BIRKNER Maria Belen||1982||ARG|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|