Alpine

Shiffrin Nails Second Place in World Cup Opener

by
USSA
2015-10-24 07:31
 

SOELDEN, Austria (Oct. 24, 2015) - On an icy injected course in Soelden, Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) threw down two solid runs of giant slalom to walk away with second place at the first Audi FIS Alpine World Cup of the 2015-16 season. She finished behind Italian Federica Brignone, who won her first World Cup. Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein took third.

Brignone had stood on the podium seven times without recording a single victory. All that changed on the Rettenbach glacier as Brignone completed two nearly flawless giant slalom runs down a slope so icy the 14,000 fans in attendance could practically see their reflections while watching the competition.

Brignone held nearly a second lead over Shiffrin—who had won last year’s giant slalom in Soelden—after the first run. Although Shiffrin was pleased with her first run, she knew Brignone would be hard to touch.

“I heard that [Brignone] had nearly a perfect run, and I can’t wait to watch it because it’s probably gorgeous skiing and really powerful,” said Shiffrin between runs. “I looked at the time and was like – what can you do?”


Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates her podium spot in the finish. (USSA-Tom Kelly)

Shiffrin’s valiant effort on the second run shaved one-tenth off Brignone’s lead but was only enough for the second step on the podium. Still, the slalom ace was all smiles at the awards ceremony in the finish area as she struggled to uncork a champagne bottle. Although she’s no longer a teenager, she is still only 20 years old.

This was only Shiffrin’s fifth World Cup GS podium, who has been working hard on her GS and super G during the offseason. “I felt really good with my skiing—I felt like I attacked and I had more confidence than I have had in a GS before,” said Shiffrin in the post-race press conference. “I think it’s a good place to start. Just feeling like I can charge down a course and maybe take some risks and actually pull it off – I’ve never felt that before.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mikaela Shiffrin took second place at the season’s World Cup opener giant slalom, .85 seconds behind Federica Brignone of Italy.
  • This was Shiffrin’s fifth GS podium in a World Cup race.
  • Mikaela Shiffrin and Anna Fenninger tied for the win in this race last season. It was Shiffrin’s only World Cup GS victory.
  • Megan McJames finished 48th on the first run and did not qualify for the second run.
  • This was the first World Cup race of the 49th season—the first of 41 women’s races and first of nine women’s giant slaloms. 
  • Watch the race recap on Universal Sports at 3 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
  • Men's GS is up next in Soelden on Sunday with Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV), Tommy Ford (Bend, OR), Kieffer Christianson (Anchorage, AK), Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Nick Cohee (Gardnerville, NV) starting. Watch it live on Universal Sports at 7:30 a.m. ET.

QUOTES
Mikaela Shiffrin
Federica [Brignone] absolutely nailed her first run and her second run. She did a really good job as well. I don’t think anybody could beat her today, obviously. I felt really good with my skiing—I felt like I attacked and I had more confidence than I have had in a GS before. I think it’s a good place to start.

I was nervous. The last couple weeks I’ve been more and more nervous each day. And yesterday and today all of a sudden, I was just sick of being nervous. Let’s just ski well. I just want to ski well. I’m not so worried about if I win or lose. I just want to see where I stack up because it’s always a fun race and it’s a great hill and I want to join that.

Maybe I have more mature goals now. I’m not a teenager anymore! I feel like the same person and I feel like my goals are equally important as they ever were—same amount of focus.  After an Olympic gold medal and a couple World Championship gold medals, I feel like I can kind of relax a little bit. I don’t have that pressure that I have to win a big event—it’s just race-by-race, see how fast I can ski. I’m just working on improving my skiing and trying to be the best in the world.

It’s always been a dream of mine to win the overall globe. This year is a little bit of a gauge to see where I can stack up. Today is a really good start. If my slalom keeps going well, I feel really strong, so I can make points. It’s a little early to tell right now and I don’t want to focus on that. It’s just race-by-race—I’ll see if I can win the races.

Anna [Fenninger] has been an absolute force the last couple years—winning the overall globe and the GS globe, three medals at World Championships. She just seemed absolutely unstoppable. Everybody expected that she would be on fire at this first race and two days beforehand: oops! I guess we’re all human. Anybody could get injured. It was an eye-opening experience to hear that she got hurt. Everybody wishes her the best in recovering because it’s a tough injury. But she’s strong mentally, she’s strong physically and I think one of the greatest skiers of all time. I hope she has some more wins ahead of her.

I did OK carrying my speed, which is good. I struggled a little on the pitch, but on the top flats and bottom flats, I was fairly strong. That’s a good sign for super G and gliding—which is not maybe my strong suit yet, as I’m used to turning a lot. But I’m working on going straighter and slowly progressing in that area.

I think some of it is luck. The past few days I was nervous and today I was still anxious, but more excited and positive. That was a good mentality for this race. I actually ready something that Ted [Ligety] said about this race: that it is really exciting, you don’t really know where you stack up, so you just go out and try your hardest and see. That helped me get the right mindset going, which is good. It’s a hit-or-miss race—some people are really nervous. And this hill today, it’s injected ice. It’s some of the iciest stuff we’ve skied so far. If you’re nervous and tight, you’re not going to have a good time. You have to be as loose as possible and step on your outside ski and let your skis take you down the hill. I tried to do that today and it worked well.

I watched Federica ski and saw how aggressive she was on the pitch, which is really steep up there. It’s easy to back off and think ‘I’ll just wait for it to get a little flatter to keep charging!’ She didn’t back off for one second. Last year, when I watched Fenniger and Reb [Victoria Rebensburg] and [Kathrin] Zettel on the top part, they were charging so hard and attacking so much that they made mistakes. It seems like girls are attacking and learning how to handle it more. You have to keep going or get left behind.

RESULTS
Women’s giant slalom results

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