Mikaela Shiffrin skied to second place at the World Cup opening race in Soelden, Austria. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alan Grosclaude)
SOELDEN, Austria (October 22, 2016) – Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) kicked off the season with a bang, nailing the podium at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, taking second place. Lara Gut of Switzerland dominated the race, winning by 1.44 seconds.
It was a bluebird day with grippy snow, and Gut—last season’s overall World Cup winner—took advantage of the conditions. Shiffrin looked strong after starting 16th first run, but couldn’t keep up with Gut's flawless performance. Gut led Shiffrin by 1.42 seconds after the first run and while Shiffrin stayed on her heels second run, the lead was too great. Behind Shiffrin was Marta Bassino of Italy, who stepped on her first World Cup podium in third place.
Shiffrin stands on the podium with Lara Gut and Marta Bassino. (U.S. Ski Team-Tom Kelly)
“Lara’s performance was really impressive,” said Shiffrin after the race. “I know that I had really, really good preparation coming into this race. I felt good about where my skiing was, so when she comes down and she’s that far ahead and taking every gate like it’s the last gate she’s ever going to ski, it’s really cool to see. But I’m gunning for the rest of the races!”
Shiffrin was not shy about her discussing her goals for giant slalom this season, highlighting the upcoming Killington World Cup and stating that she’s hunting for more GS podiums. “Right now, my focus is the slalom globe and GS globe,” said Shiffrin. “I really, really want to win GS races, even more than I want to win the overall globe.”
Shiffrin races to second place. (Getty Images-Joe Klamer)
The women have a break before heading to Levi, Finland on November 12 for a slalom and then come back to the U.S. for the Killington World Cup.
Shiffrin's fan club showed up to cheer at Soelden. (U.S. Ski Team-Tom Kelly)
Mikaela Shiffrin was second in the Audi FIS Ski World Cup opener giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.
Lara Gut of Switzerland won the race by 1.44 seconds over Shiffrin.
It is Shiffrin’s sixth giant slalom podium. Half of her GS podium results have come in Soelden.
Shiffrin’s only World Cup GS win came at Soelden in 2014.
American Megan McJames (Park City, UT) did not qualify for second run.
Watch the race recap on Universal HD at 3 p.m. ET.
The men race Sunday with Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO), Kieffer Christianson (Anchorage, AK), Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, VT), Tommy Ford (Bend, OR), Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV) and Brennan Rubie (Salt Lake City, UT) starting.
Shiffrin answers questions at the Soelden press conference after the race. (U.S. Ski Team-Tom Kelly)
Mikaela Shiffrin Second place! I definitely like second. I like first better (laughs), but it is nice to start off on this foot. It was a really tough day for a lot of girls. Lara was the only one who really skied as hard as she could. I’m happy with where I’m at. I took more risk than I ever had in a GS, but I can do more and better. I’m excited to do the next GS at Killington. Maybe that’ll be my next GS win, who knows!
Lara’s performance was really impressive. Anytime someone can come into this first race and ski so relaxed and charging, it’s so impressive. I know that I had really, really good preparation coming into this race. I felt good about where my skiing was, so when she comes down and she’s that far ahead and taking every gate like it’s the last gate she’s ever going to ski, it’s really cool to see. But I’m gunning for the rest of the races!
It’s a big relief today to walk away with a podium. It’s always great to win, but I’m starting off on the right foot and I can be happy with that. But I know I can also do better.
I really want to be in the starting gate of a GS race and flipping hammer. I’m getting really close. My intensity of training is better. My skiing is better. I feel like a GS skier as well as a slalom skier. I have to keep showing myself that I can ski that fast. I lost a lot of that rhythm last year when I got hurt, but I’m getting it back.
Lara Gut is the queen of hammering the course—really, really racing it. That’s what ski racing should be. I’m getting closer, but I have a lot of respect for her. Her skiing is dialed in and she’s not scared of going out of the course.
On winning World Cup titles I’m setting a checkpoint of the middle of the season. If it looks like I’m in there, I might start making (the overall globe) more of a focus. Right now, my focus is the slalom globe and GS globe. I really, really want to win GS races, even more than I want to win the overall globe. If I can do well in slalom and GS and add some points in speed, I have the ability to fight for the overall. But once again, Lara is really strong and she won it last year. I don’t want take anything for granted.
On the Killington World Cup The World Cup hasn’t been in the east coast since 1991. We’re so excited. It’s like coming back to Vail for World Championships after so long. I know the east coast ski racing fans are so excited for this race. It’s going to be a great show and great atmosphere and I can’t wait to bring ski racing back to the east coast.
TV SCHEDULE Saturday, Oct. 22 – women’s giant slalom – Universal HD, 3:00 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 23 – men’s giant slalom – NBCSN, 9:30 p.m. ET