A week ago in Flachau, Austria, Shiffrin broke her seven-race winning streak in slalom, ceding to Petra Vlhova in the slalom for the first time in the 2018/19. After the race, the American expressed that maybe her loss was a wake-up call, one that would redirect her focus into the technical arena, where she aims to win the overall titles in the slalom and the giant slalom.
Her will to win and capture the crystal globe showed in Kronplatz on Tuesday. After only a few days of giant slalom training in the past month, Shiffrin had an explosive first run that gave her a comfortable lead of 1.39 seconds over France’s Tessa Worley. She skied aggressively, taking a much straighter line than the rest of the field, finding speed where other women could not.
“Every time I’m in the start, I want to win. But I think every girl wants to win,” said Shiffrin. “So when I came here I was thinking, the last years didn’t go so well for me, I’ve always struggled on this hill. But I was excited to ski on it and prove to myself that I can ski it fast and I can make it to the finish. The first run was maybe my best run in GS that I ever did.”
Although Worley bested Shiffrin’s time on the second run, it wasn’t enough to overcome the American, and Shiffrin came away from the race with her second giant slalom win of the season. Her win unseated Italian Federica Brignone from the lead in the Overall giant slalom standings, and Shiffrin now holds the red bib by 10 points over Worley. Currently, Shiffrin leads the World Cup overall, slalom, super-G, and giant slalom standings. The only event she has yet to win this season is the downhill.
“This slope is always very challenging. And like every race, you really need to battle through the second run to get a great result,” said Worley. “I was really happy with what I did in my second run. But in the first run for sure, Mikaela had a stunning run and she was really fast, so the time difference was quite big.”
Worley took a break from the circuit during the month of December after an injury obtained in the Lake Louise downhill. Since her return, she has never finished off the podium. Worley is also in the hunt for the giant slalom crystal globe, which she won back in 2017, besting Shiffrin by 85 points. This season the race for the title is even tighter. Only 10 points separate Shiffrin and Worley, and Brignone trails Worley by 35 points. With three giant slalom races remaining in the season, the title could belong to any woman.
Brignone finished a disappointing sixth but was proud to cheer on her teammate, 22-year-old Marta Bassino. Bassino performed on home soil to earn a spot on the giant slalom podium for the first time since the Aspen in 2017. The sun was shining, the snow was perfect, and the fans were loud, a picturesque setting for the Italian’s comeback.
“I was free of my mind, and I just skied as fast as I can and as I know,” said Bassino. “When I crossed the finish line in the second run and saw the green light I thought, ‘wow, finally!'”
The ladies giant slalom was missing Slovenian Ana Drev and Austrians, Stephanie Brunner and Anna Veith, in Kronplatz, who all tore their ACL’s in training preparing for Tuesday’s giant slalom. As consistent finishers in the top of the field, their absence made room for a few more women to step into the spotlight. A few women charged from the back of the pack to break into the top 30, including the United State’s Nina O’Brien.
After a successful first run put her in 25th, O’Brien kept the momentum rolling to finish 26th overall and earn her first World Cup giant slalom points. O’Brien is coming off of a successful run in the NorAm circuit, where she won both of the giant slalom events in Georgian Peaks, Canada, as well as a slalom in Osler Bluff.
“I think today, it was really nice to show myself that it didn’t take some magic skiing that I’ve never done before,” said O’Brien. “I felt solid in my skiing and that was good enough today, so I think that gives me, and hopefully the other girls a little bit of confidence for the next races.”
Her teammate, AJ Hurt, did not finish her first run.
Next stop for the women’s circuit will be in Cortina January 18th-20th. The women in speed will compete in downhill and super-G, and see the long-awaited return of 34-year-old American, Lindsey Vonn.
1. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA): 2:04.75 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Marta Bassino (ITA): 1.57 – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER): +2.31 – Stoeckli/Lange
7. Meta Hrovat (SLO): +2.45 – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
8. Ricarda Haaser (AUT): +2.97 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
9. Wendy Holdener (SUI): +3.40 – Head/Head/Head
For official FIS results, click here.