Before the sun rose on Saturday morning, American Mikaela Shiffrin had already mathematically secured the 2016-17 World Cup overall globe–the first of her career–as well as the slalom globe. There was no scenario where an athlete could surpass her for the big globe once Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec decided not to start in the final slalom race of the season. Shiffrin heard the good news from her mom, Eileen, who plays a role as supporter and coach on the road.
“My mom walked into my room and I had just woken up from a nap, and she said, ‘Oh, Congratulations! The overall is yours,” she recalled. “I said ‘No, it’s not yet.’ She said no, Ilka decided not to ski the slalom so it’s yours – and we were like, ‘Woo!’ I had just woken up from a nap; it didn’t seem like a real thing. It’s odd to say I won something in ski racing when I wasn’t actually out on the hill, so it feels a little more real today. It’ll feel more real tomorrow when I’m actually holding it, but it’s something that’s very hard to describe completely.”
Even with the overall and slalom globe spoken for, there was a slalom race to compete in. So, the women of the World Cup took the Aspen, Colo. slope in spring conditions. Temperatures hovered around 60 degrees at midday, and by second run, the snow was slushy. As each woman descended, fans could see the groove grow next to the gates. That did not stop first run winner Petra Vlhova of Slovakia from building on her lead to take the final win of the season with a combined time of 1:32.00.
“This victory, I needed it,” Vlhova said. “Because after Squaw Valley, I was really upset because I know that I am fast, but sometimes I do some mistakes and if you want to win, you have to ski without mistakes.”
Vlhova was on the podium two other times this season in Levi, Finland, and Zagreb, Croatia. The Slovakian has one other victory to her name from Are, Sweden, last season.
Shiffrin finished the day in second place, 0.24 seconds behind Vlhova, and while the result was not the win that she was likely looking for, she enjoyed the day.
“It’s beautiful,” Shiffrin said. “I love racing at Aspen, and I love racing in front of a home crowd. It was a good day.”
This marked the 44th World Cup podium finish of her career. As for earning the big globe this season, the American has not fully processed the achievement yet.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever process that,” she said. “It’s been a goal and a dream of mine since I was five years old, and it’s really difficult to understand something that finally happens after 20 years.”
On Saturday, she also collected the fourth slalom globe of her young career, but Shiffrin will not hold the big globe in her hand until Sunday after the giant slalom race at the official presentation.
Returning to the podium was Frida Hansdotter in third place, 0.35 seconds away from the win. Hansdotter was ahead of Shiffrin after the first run, but was unable to maintain her lead.
The only other American slalom skier to qualify for World Cup Finals was Resi Stiegler, who ended the day in 19th place. She said that early in the season, she had a good feeling in her skiing, but lost it before World Championships.
“My second half of the season has kind of been a bit like today, where I’m a little too nervous or I stumble and I do something that is so costly where second run you can go for it as much as you want,” Stiegler said. “But that’s not really my style, which is really solid these days, so it’s hard to kinda let loose and not make an even bigger mistake. I just went for it, and I want to get better results. That’s the point. My speed is here, so I just need to believe.”
The veteran has started in more than 150 World Cups, beginning back in 2002, and clearly, she has no plans to stop. In the finish area after the race, she said her big plans for the offseason are to go have fun.
The final World Cup races of the season take place on Sunday with the men’s slalom and women’s giant slalom.
Check out the photo gallery from Saturday’s races here.
Fans can stay up to date on World Cup by downloading the U.S. Ski Team – Ski Racing app for iOS and Android.
- Petra Vlhova (SVK) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Frida Hansdotter (SWE) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Veronika Velez Zuzulova (SVK) – Salomon / Salomon / Salomon
- Melanie Meillard (SUI) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Wendy Holdener (SUI) – Head / Head / Head
- Emilia Wikstroem (SWE) – Volkl / Marker / Dalbello
- Sarka Strachova (CZE) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Bernadette Schild (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
- Marina Wallner (GER) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|4||6||705287||VELEZ ZUZULOVA Veronika||1984||SVK||45.66||46.73||1:32.39||+0.39||3.05||50.00|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|25||197319||BAUD MUGNIER Adeline||1992||FRA|