Mikaela Shiffrin, who was fourth in super G at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy last month, is scheduled race all three super G and combined events this weekend Crans-Montana, Switzerland. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Christophe Pallot)
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (Feb. 23, 2017) – With the St. Moritz World Championships in the books, the Audi FIS Ski World Cup circuit resumes this weekend at Crans-Montana, Switzerland for the women and Kvitfjell, Norway for the men.
All eyes will be on the young Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO), who is fresh off a pair of World Championships medals – including a commanding 1.64-second win to grab the hat-trick slalom title. But that’s not even the biggest reason all eyes are on her.
Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates winning the women's slalom race at the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St Moritz. (Getty Images/AFP-Fabrice Coffrini)
Shiffrin currently leads the race for the big globe, with 1,203 points to Swiss Lara Gut’s 1,023 points in the overall chase. Sadly, Gut’s season was cut short when she injured her knee in St. Moritz before the slalom portion of the alpine combined. That means Shiffrin’s closest competitor is Italy’s Sofia Goggia, with 789 points. Heading into the weekend, Shiffrin plans to compete in all three events, including Friday and Sunday’s alpine combined events – one rescheduled from Altenmarkt-Zauchensee – and Saturday’s super G. Additionally, she’s leading the slalom standings and is second in the giant slalom standings. It’ll be a race to the finish line, and it will culminate on home soil in Aspen, CO at World Cup Finals in March.
But Shiffrin doesn't plan on taking it easy in her fight for the overall. "It’s a really, really big disappointment with Lara’s injury," Shiffrin said. "I’m wishing her the very best. The overall, it’s supposed to be a fight. Remember Anna Fenninger and Tina Maze fighting for it—that was so exciting and nerve-wracking for them, but for all of us, it was really fun to watch. There are some girls—Ilka (Stuhec), Sofia (Goggia), even Tessa (Worley)—are not far behind actually. There are plenty of races still that they can make up those points. I’m definitely not changing my focus at all and just trying to finish the season strong. But I was looking forward to a fight with Lara, for sure."
Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) is still finding her form in super G, but she’s looking forward to Crans-Montana. With a top five under her belt in the alpine combined at St. Moritz, she’s feeling confident with both her speed and slalom skills, despite little slalom training this season. Watch closely as Vonn looks for the podium once again in both disciplines.
Lindsey Vonn returns to World Cup action fresh off a bronze medal in the downhill and fifth-place finish in the alpine combined at the World Championships. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alexis Boichard)
The men traveled to Kvitfjell, Norway following speed week in St. Moritz for a training camp with the Attacking Vikings before tackling two downhills – one rescheduled from earlier this season in Lake Louise – and a super G on the 1994 Olympic track. The collaboration with the Norwegians has proven to be a solid one, as the American Downhillers have gotten some good miles at this venue with a spring training camp last April/May as well. Beyond that, it’s a favorite stop on the tour for the whole crew. It’s quiet, beautiful and provides some much-needed rest and relaxation after the grind of World Championships.
It’s not surprising that the Norwegians are dominant on home soil at Kvitfjell, where currently injured Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT) scored one of his four consecutive podiums last season. Kjetil Jansrud has won a record-equaling five World Cup events on the track, alongside Herman Maier. Only one of these wins came in the downhill in 2014, while the other four were in super G (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016).
The extra time training on the track will undoubtedly be advantageous to the American Downhillers, led by Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) and Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY). Last year, Ganong finished 8th and 14th in the downhill and super G, respectively, while Weibrecht snagged a top five in the super G.
Fans can catch all of the weekend’s action on Universal HD, and can stream it live on NBCsports.com/Live.
QUOTES Mikaela Shiffrin It’s a really, really big disappointment with Lara’s injury. I’m wishing her the very best. The overall, it’s supposed to be a fight. Remember Anna Fenninger and Tina Maze fighting for it—that was so exciting and nerve-wracking for them, but for all of us, it was really fun to watch. There are some girls—Ilka (Stuhec), Sofia (Goggia), even Tessa (Worley)—are not far behind actually. There are plenty of races still that they can make up those points. I’m definitely not changing my focus at all and just trying to finish the season strong. But I was looking forward to a fight with Lara, for sure.
Andrew Weibrecht The track looks pretty good considering all of the snow they got…they cleaned it up really nice. The snow is a little inconsistent – grippy to icy – but pretty nice.
Bryce Bennett When we trained here it was a little bit sugary and soft, but they watered some sections and I think it will turn out OK tomorrow.
Travis Ganong [On the conditions and today’s training run] The track is OK. It snowed a lot the last two days and there weren’t many people working on the hill, so the conditions are not really great, but it’s OK. I didn’t train here last week; I took a break. My knee was bothering me, so I stayed in Innsbruck and relaxed and did physical therapy. My run was really good on the bottom. On the top, I was in the soft snow – there were piles of soft snow out of the track…it’ll be better tomorrow.
[On only having one training run before speed week] I love just doing one training run. I’d much rather always do one training run…less time to think and more time to just focus on pushing and more racing.