Alpine

Hometown Hero Shiffrin Wins World Champs

by
USSA
2015-02-14 16:47
 

VAIL/BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 14. 2015)—The Vail/Beaver Creek community turned out in force to cheer on their hometown superstar, Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO) in Saturday’s slalom, and Shiffrin treated her family, friends and fans to a triumphant show. Shiffrin won the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships slalom in dramatic fashion, adding to her already stacked resume. In second place was Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter and Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic was third.

Wearing bib number two, Shiffrin did not have to wait long for her chance to perform on hometown turf. Slovenia’s Tina Maze preceded Shiffrin out of the start gate, skiing well enough for a top five spot in the first run standings.

Then Shiffrin slid into the gate, looking relaxed and focused. The crowd packed into Red Tail Stadium erupted, beckoning Shiffrin down the course. 61 gates and 60 turning gates made for a super turny course. But, slalom is always a full-throttle sprint from start gate to finish line and Shiffrin dropped the hammer immediately out of the start.

Skiing balanced, fluid, and fast, Shiffrin crossed the finish line to a huge roar from the fans. Her first run time was 0.40 faster than Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter.

With an unseasonably hot sun baking the snow in between runs, a lot of chatter swirled about the changing conditions for the second run of slalom. Prior to Worlds, Shiffrin had spent a lot of time training on soft, rutted snow this season, which proved to play a key role in the final women’s slalom podium.

Of the 120-women field comprised of athletes from all over the world, two Americans made the top 30: Shiffrin and Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, MN). The two 19-year-old American skiers promise an exciting future for the U.S. Ski Team.

Moltzan was last in for the top 30—her first career top-30 finish—and skied well. After crossing the finish line and taking her place in the leader’s box, Moltzan radioed up to Shiffrin’s team at the start line with a course report.

“You have to push with everything you have,” Moltzan said to her teammate up top. “There are no tricks. Just do it!"

After the 28 racers separating Moltzan and Shiffrin, all attention focused squarely on the hometown hero. The standing room-only crowd erupted in a “USA, USA, USA!” chant as Shiffrin clicked her poles together in her customary pre-race ritual. The slalom phenom pushed out of the gate with large lead, but quickly saw that lead evaporate. Her first split time went from green to red, and her second split showed a miniscule loss of time again. Shiffrin skied an uncharacteristically hesitant top, not the type of skiing needed to win a World Championship.


Mikaela Shiffrin slays both runs of the World Championships slalom course. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alexis Boichard)  

But, she shifted gears after her second split and stomped on the gas pedal. Shiffrin straightened out her line, flashed the last portion of the slalom course, and crossed the finish line 0.34 faster than Hansdotter.

“At the beginning of my run, I knew I was attacking, but it was a little bit of a conservative line,” said an ecstatic Shiffrin after her win. “I knew I had to charge down here and try to use the groove a little bit… I’m glad to walk away with this one and do it at home in the last 10 gates.’”

Shiffrin’s World Championship medal now joins a crowded mantel in her family’s Vail-based home alongside Olympic, World Cup, and World Championship gold medals.

“It’s pretty crazy now that I think about it,” said Shiffrin. “Just before my second run, I started to convince myself how much I wanted to win this race. It’s about the process; it’s about the turns. I’m happy.”

On the coattails of Ted Ligety’s (Park City, UT) historic giant slalom win on Friday, Shiffrin’s slalom gold medal moves the U.S. Ski Team just behind Austria in total medals won at this year’s World Champs. The Americans’ momentum going into final day of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships is palpable. Be sure to tune in Sunday, February 15 to watch the men’s slalom close out the two-week event.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Shiffrin is now the back-to-back slalom World Champion, with an Olympic gold medal thrown in between.
  • Finishing 20th in slalom, Moltzan earned her first career top-30 finish on Saturday.
  • Shiffrin had the third-fastest second run in the slalom.
  • Shiffrin is the first slalom World Champion to win on home snow since Italian Deborah Compagnoni won gold in Sestrières, Italy in 1997.
  • Joining Shiffrin and Moltzan as starters in the slalom were Hailey Duke (Boise, ID), taking 28th place, Megan McJames (Park City, UT) finishing 38th and Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) who did not start second run.
  • The men’s first run of slalom will air live on Universal Sports Network at 12:00 p.m. EST. NBC will carry the race at 4:30 p.m. EST.

Watch Shiffrin's winning second run of the World Champs.

QUOTES
Mikaela Shiffrin
This win is different. I can’t really explain it. It’s a tough hill, a tough race. There are a lot of really fast racers and I’m glad to walk away with this one and do it at home in the last 10 gates.

At the beginning of my run, I knew I was attacking, but it was a little bit of a conservative line. I knew I had to charge down here and try to use the groove a little bit. It seem like people were taking it too conservative down here, so I think I made up a lot of time, but every single person I’ve seen so far has been like, “You almost killed me!”

It’s pretty crazy now that I think about it. Just before my second run, I started to convince myself how much I wanted to win this race. It’s about the process; it’s about the turns. I’m happy! It’s nice to be in the green.

I felt a little bit of pressure racing at home. I actually might be in a little bit of denial about it. I always say that I don’t really feel pressure, but I think I feel it—it’s just about how I handle it. It sparks throughout the day where I think “oh my gosh, I can’t do this." Then there are moments when I think “I'm king of the world." It’s just about finding the right attitude in the right moment and putting it together for a win.

I really hope that I can win the next couple races and get back to my GS and really try to take the next step there. I feel like I’m so close. I feel pretty comfortable with my slalom. Like I said, I was a little bit conservative at the top, but I let it rip down on the bottom because I have the confidence to do that. But I have to get better on my GS, so that’s kind of where I want to go. 

Paula Moltzan
It felt pretty good! I was a little hesitant on the top, but I got it going after the first break over. This course was much straighter than the first one. 

It’s so amazing to be in my first world champs and get my first top 30 World Cup. It’s exciting to be a part of it here.

RESULTS
Women's World Championships slalom results

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