SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. — When Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin missed a gate with the finish line in sight on the first run of slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships, the door was opened wide for her American teammate Resi Stiegler to duke it out with Canadian Marie-Michele “Mitch” Gagnon for the title. Stiegler led after first run, but Gagnon produced such a hard-charging second run that she was able to claim victory by the narrowest of margins, just one hundredth of a second, to keep the title in Canadian hands for one more year.
Marco Sullivan’s Canadian girlfriend Anna Goodman won the race last year, and this year Travis Ganong’s girlfriend claimed it along with a crisp $20 bill that both she and Stiegler noticed from the chairlift on the way up to second run. They decided the victor would take the money, and Stiegler was quick to pull the bill out and hand it over to Gagnon after crossing the finish line.
“Mitch and I are pretty good friends. We’ve had such a great couple years together so it’s kind of fun to have her here and obviously I’m not stoked that she beat me by a hundy but it’s pretty cool to have one of your best friends ahead of you,” said Stiegler. “We got off the chair at the top and we found $20, and we both were diving for it. We said, ‘Okay, whoever wins gets the $20, but they have to buy you a beer’ so I just get to have a couple more beers than she does.”
Gagnon will take her victory from Squaw Valley up to Whistler for the Canadian championships where she will contest the technical races next week.
“It’s kind of the story of my season so far this year: A solid okay not so fast first run and then a killing second run, but I really need to learn for the future for the World Cup to be able to lay one of those down in the first run as well,” remarked Gagnon. “Again there’s always a bit of doubt in the first run and I have to be able to put that away. But I am happy to be winning today, and it was an exciting race and with Resi.”
The top junior on the day was development team skier Lila Lapanja, the 2014 NorAm slalom title winner, who rounded out the podium in third. Lapanja is looking forward to competing against the likes of Gagnon and Stiegler next season on the World Cup tour.
“This is my best finish at U.S. nationals ever. I had a fourth at Winter Park two years ago and had a little redemption at Squaw here from last year, so I’m super happy with how I skied today. I put my whole heart on the hill,” said Lapanja. “There’s still two seconds I need to make up (on Gagnon and Stiegler) but I know exactly where those two seconds are, and I can’t wait to start training for next season.”
Lapanja’s teammate Foreste Peterson in fourth and Paula Moltzan in sixth rounded out the fastest skiers on the junior podium.
The crowd was disappointed not to see Shiffrin in the second run, but she spent the majority of the day signing autographs and chatting it up with her young fans in the finish area.
“I felt like I got going just a little too fast. In inspection I saw this section of the course and thought, ‘You can let it rip there, the finish is in sight.’ I just gave it a little bit too much and got out of balance,” said Shiffrin. “I’m bummed that I don’t get a second run, but I’m just trying to stay positive. I had a great season, and I’m glad with my GS win.”
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|9||14||425889||MYKLEBUST Karoline Soevik||1991||NOR||52.46||52.75||1:45.21||+5.60||42.86|
|13||24||6535773||O BRIEN Nina||1997||USA||55.58||52.92||1:48.50||+8.89||63.33|
|Disqualified 2nd run|
|23||6535478||O BRIEN Audrey||1996||USA|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|10||425916||FAUSA Chloe Margrethe||1992||NOR|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|