Shiffrin wins World Cup slalom on home snow, her sixth straight
KILLINGTON, Vt. — Mikaela Shiffrin woke up Sunday morning all nervous and edgy. By the end of the afternoon, it was hard to wonder why.
With her 95-year-old grandmother among the thousands cheering her, Shriffin won her sixth straight World Cup slalom Sunday after building a healthy lead in the first run and holding off some hard chargers in the second.
The overall World Cup leader had a combined time of 1 minute, 27.95 seconds. She was followed by Slovakia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova, 0.73 seconds, and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener in 1:28.81.
Norway’s Nina Loeseth, runner-up in Saturday’s giant slalom, was fourth in 1:29.29 — 0.01 seconds ahead of Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova. The top five finishers from the first run finished in the same positions.
Shiffrin said she put a lot of pressure on herself about racing in the East. And Sunday began with a sense of dread.
“I told myself, maybe I just should not do this,” she said, adding she did not shake the feelings until the second run. “I was worked up and really nervous.”
But the skier who attended Burke Mountain Academy in northern Vermont had no shortage of fans behind her.
“Thank you so much for cheering so loud,” she told those packing the two grandstands and lining the bottom of the course.
Shiffrin spent the Thanksgiving holiday with her family, including her grandmother.
“It was amazing that Nana was here to watch,” said Shiffrin, thanking her for “the unconditional love and the incredible pies.”
“I’ve never been prouder of doing anything than winning a race in front of my Nana,” she said.
Shiffrin also won the first slalom of the World Cup season in Finland. With a first in slalom and fifth in GS at Killington, she has extended her World Cup overall lead. She has 325 points to 168 for the runner-up, Switzerland’s Holdener.
This weekend’s World Cup races were the first for Killington and the first in 38 years in Vermont. There was a big crowd again Sunday, though perhaps slightly smaller than the 15,000-plus for Saturday’s giant slalom. The grandstands were again filled, with spectators piled up dozens deep alongside the course.
Velez Zuzulova called this her favorite race in North America.
“The crowds have never been like this in Aspen,” she said of the Colorado stop on the women’s circuit. “They were making noise for me, too,” she added. “They were cheering for everybody.”
This was Velez Zuzulova’s 26th World podium finish. She said her father, also her coach, had set the second-run course, and she felt it had been perfect for her. She was running 30th — next to last — in the second run and that meant much tougher conditions than when she started seventh in the first run.
“It was a fight right from the start,” she said.
Holdener, who had her ninth top-three finish, spoke of the challenge of catching Shiffrin.
“We are getting a step closer this year than last year,” she said. “She’s still really dominant. To get even closer, we need to build our confidence.”
Shiffrin is just 21 but already has 22 World Cup victories, tying her for 19th on the women’s career list. She gets a kick looking at the records, but says the important thing is to love what you do.
When asked about her role for young female skiers — many on hand this weekend — she acknowledges that’s becoming more important to her.
“As people tell me that they’re inspired by what I’m doing, I start to inspire myself as well,” she said. “But you’re skiing for yourself, not for anyone else. You can’t worry about other people’s approval.”
Worley wins GS
France’s Tessa Worley won a World Cup giant slalom Saturday, holding off first-run leader Nina Loeseth of Norway. Mikaela Shiffrin, runner-up in the season-opening giant slalom in Austria, finished fifth.
Worley, who won this event at the 2013 world championships, finished in 1 minute, 59.26 seconds. She was 0.80 seconds faster than Loeseth, who led by 0.09 seconds after the first run.
This was Worley’s ninth giant slalom World Cup victory but first since she injured a knee in 2013.
Sofia Goggia of Italy was third in 2:00.37, charging from 14th place with the fastest second run. Marta Bassino of Italy was fourth in 2:00.39.
This was the women’s second giant slalom of the season. It was the first World Cup race held at Killington and first in Vermont since 1978.
The race on Killington’s Superstar trail took place under overcast skies, with fog moving in and out during the second run. The fog had lifted and the wind was blowing snow showers across the slope as the top skiers pushed out for their second runs.
Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who won the season’s first giant slalom, was among 13 skiers who failed to finish the first run. She caught an edge early in her run and skied out.
The crowd, estimated at more than 15,000, was one of the largest for an Alpine race in the U.S. Shiffrin, the Olympic champion, skied well in the first half of her second run but lost time near the bottom of the course.
The women’s World Cup circuit moves to Lake Louise, Alberta, for two downhills and a super-G on Dec. 2-4.
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