Mikaela Shiffrin sits with her mother Eileen Shiffrin and grandmother Pauline Condron on the medals podium for a family photo Sunday in Killington, Vermont. (Getty Images/Matthew Stockman) See video of second run below.
US Ski & Snowboard In front of 16,000 fans, her 96-year-old Nana and her best friend, Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) skied with dominating precision, powered by a thunderous roar from the crowd, to win her first FIS Ski World Cup slalom of the season on a steep, windy, icy track at the Xfinity Killington Cup. Shiffrin, the Burke Mountain Academy grad, opened up a 0.89-second advantage in the first run and then blew the doors off the competition in the second to win by 1.64 seconds over Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova - winner of the season-opening slalom in Levi, Finland earlier this month – in second. Austria’s Bernadette Schild finished third.
“My Nana and my best friend are here, and those are two people that I rarely see, and they were able to come and watch me race here last year and this year, and these are just the moments that are above the Olympics, above the World Championships, above anything else,” Shiffrin said. “This day, in and of itself, will make this season successful for me.”
Mikaela Shiffrin on the slalom course at Killington Sunday. David Young/Killington photos
With a cold north wind blowing, a number of athletes struggled in the second run with visibility and the slick, icy course. Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener skied to second in the first run, but then blew out in the early on in the second run, hiked, blew out again and DNFd. Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter also struggled, dropping from fourth in the first run to fifth in the second. That left the door open for Vlhova, who only managed fifth in the first run, to remain in the leader’s hot seat after a stellar second run, and put the pressure on Shiffrin.
“I saw her in the first gates before her mistake, and she wants it. She is skiing well,” Shiffrin said of Holdener. “Petra had a great second run, so there are quite a few girls who want it just as much as I do and the difference comes with the skiing, comes with the discipline, and that’s where I’m going to come out on top. Right now, I’m just focusing on my skiing, because if I focus on winning, it’s too stressful.”
With the season’s opening tech events in the rearview mirror, it’s time for Shiffrin to now focus on the upcoming speed events at Lake Louise, Alberta.
Mikaela Shiffrin slalom podium winner at Killington Sunday. David Young/Killington photos
“I’m building momentum even more so now in GS and slalom, I’m really excited for the first speed races in Lake Louise,” she added. “Once you get the ball rolling, it’s usually a bit easier to keep it rolling, but anything can happen. So now I’m just trying to focus on my skiing and having fun with it.”
Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, Wyo.) finished 21st. Katie Hensien (Redman, Wash.) made her World Cup debut at Killington, but did not finish the first run. With her victory, Shiffrin extended her overall World Cup lead to 84 points over Vlhova. Shiffrin and Vlhova are also tied for the overall World Cup slalom lead with 180 points each.
In the giant slalom on Saturday, Shiffrin took a huge step in her Olympic season giant slalom preparation, finishing second in the Xfinity Killington Cup, the second GS race of the FIS Ski World Cup. Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg took her second-straight giant slalom victory, as Italy’s Manuela Moelgg finished third.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction after Soelden,” said Shiffrin, who finished fifth at the season-opening giant slalom last month in Austria. “I felt a lot more confident with my skiing today and I’m excited to keep that going. It was a sweet race today, it was really fun to ski.”
In front of a record-breaking crowd of more than 18,000 screaming fan at Killington – which eclipsed the previous record of 16,000 set last year at Killington – Shiffrin drilled her first run, leaving just a 0.26-second margin to first-run leader Rebensburg, winner of the season-opener in Soelden.
With a thundering crowd, overcast skies and light precipitation moving in for the second run, Shiffrin took a few risks to maintain her podium position.
“I felt like I had a couple little bobbles where I felt myself losing time,” she said. “But I also took a little bit of extra risk where I may have gained some time. It wasn’t like one of my flawless training runs where I felt like: ‘Oh my gosh it’s the fastest that course could be skied.’ But it was definitely one of my best race runs.”
Up next, the ladies FIS Ski World Cup moves to Lake Louise with a pair of downhill races and super G, Dec. 1-3.
Source: KILLINGTON, Vt. (Nov. 26, 2017) – U.S. Ski & Snowboard. usskiandsnowboard.org