With the season discipline title locked up last week in Are, Sweden and more than second-and-a-half lead after the first run, it was a largely ceremonial and symbolic conclusion to the women’s World Cup slalom season in Lenzerheide, Switzerland Saturday.
It’s a far cry from the manner in which Mikaela Shiffrin won this title last year, gunning down the season’s overall champ Tina Maze in the final event to secure her first-career crystal globe. It was much less dramatic but equally as impressive Saturday as the now-19-year-old charged to a dominant combined time of 2 minutes, 4.54 seconds.
“I ran No. 1, so I definitely had a smoother course (first run),” said Shiffrin. “It’s been warm, so there’s not a great, solid base, but it was still awesome conditions for me. … The pitch makes it tough, and that makes it really hard to attack because it’s pretty steep and it’s a difficult course. I think that’s maybe where some of the time is going.
“I was pretty psyched with (the turny first-run set),” added Shiffrin. “When I was younger, I used to ski really turny courses. My coach always tried to challenge me with those.”
In the second run, there was a tough rut on the third gate that caused many of the racers to stumble. Not Shiffrin — she breezed right over it and made the rest of the course look easy, as she basically skied the run she needed to maintain a margin over World No. 2 Frida Hansdotter.
“I’m more comfortable with this kind of show than last year,” Shiffrin said after the win. “I felt more comfortable the second run, just trying to hold on to it and not slow myself down. I just wanted to keep skiing fast. … One of my goals this year was to hold on to the slalom globe, so I’m glad I got to.”
For the rest of the world, it was a race for second with the Swede, Hansdotter — a distant second after the first run — finishing the season on a strong note by fending off a late challenge by Marlies Schild. The Austrian vet put down the fastest second-run pace of 58.70 seconds, which Hansdotter was able to nearly match (58.99) and capitalize on her advantage from earlier in the day. Schild, who was just sixth after the first run, ultimately rounded out the podium in third.
Shiffrin was the sole U.S. representative in this World Cup slalom finale (just the top 25 qualify). Similarly, Marie-Michele Gagnon, who hasn’t quite been herself since dislocating her shoulder in Sochi, served as the lone representative for Canada, putting together two runs to finish in tenth on the day, sixth in the season’s slalom standings.
“I have very little energy right now,” said Gagnon, who won her first World Cup race – a super combined – in January. “The first run was horrible but I just didn’t have that fire. Second run was better, even with some mistakes. … All the girls who do all the events are feeling it – especially in an Olympic year. It’s super draining, which is why I trained so hard in the summer. Sometimes you reach the bottom of the tank and find something extra, which is what happened today.”
The Olympic gold medalist Shiffrin has made no secret that there is at least one goal that has thus far gone unmet this season: winning a World Cup giant slalom. She’s finished on the podium twice and will get one more chance as World Cup racing for the 2013-14 season concludes with women’s GS on Sunday.
“One more goal tomorrow, and if I don’t achieve it, it’s just something that I put on the goal board for next year,” said Shiffrin. “I’m just looking to ski lose and free.”
See more photos from this race in our gallery here.
By Hank McKee
Women’s World Cup slalom, Lenzerheide, Switzerland, March 15, 2014
Equipment – skis/boots/bindings
1 Shiffrin, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Hansdotter, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
3 Schild, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Zettel, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Holdener, Head/Head/Head
6 Hosp, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
7 Strachova, Head/Head/Head
8 Pietilae-Holmner, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9 Costazza, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
10 Gagnon, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Women’s World Cup slalom, Lenzerheide, Switzerland, March 15, 2014. … It is the 29th of 30 races on the women’s schedule… the eighth and final slalom. … It is the 39th World Cup race hosted at Lenzerheide, the tenth slalom.
It is the ninth career World Cup win for Mikaela Shiffrin… all in slalom. … It is her sixth win of the season including the gold medal in slalom at the Olympics. … It is her second win at Lenzerheide. … It is the 269th U.S. World Cup win… the 67th in slalom. … Shiffrin matches Phil Mahre and Tamara McKinney for the most slalom wins in U.S. World Cup history.
It is the tenth World Cup podium for Frida Hansdotter, and ninth second-place finish. … It is her fourth podium of the season and third second-place finish.
It is he 67th career World Cup podium for Marlies Schild. … Her fifth at Lenzerheide. … It is her fifth podium of the season including a silver medal in slalom at the Olympics.
It is a career-best result at Lenzerheide for Marie-Michele Gagnon.
With one race remaining, Anna Fenninger (did not race) leads the World Cup overall standings 1271-1180 over Maria Hoefl-Riesch (did not race). … Lara Gut (did not race) is third with 1056pts. Mikaela Shiffrin is sixth with 873pts. … Gagnon 11th with 505pts.
Shiffrin wins the slalom title (her second straight) 638-488 over Frida Hansdotter. … Schild is third with 385pts. … Gagnon is sixth with 232pts.
Austria leds the women’s Nations Cup 5892-3279 over Switzerand, with Sweden in third with 2818pts. … The U.S. is fifth with 1999pts and Canada 11h with 794pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|Did not start 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|