After the first run in Flachau, Austria, Mikaela Shiffrin found herself in an unfamiliar position: second place in a slalom race. The American sat 0.37 seconds behind Bernadette Schild of Austria. The deficit fueled her inner flame. In true Shiffrin style, she charged down the second run course to win by 0.94 seconds over the Austrian. Last year’s Snow Space Princess Frida Hansdotter made a valiant effort and skied to third position, 1.43 seconds away from the win.
“The first run I was a bit anxious,” the American shared. “After last year here, I didn’t really ski free, and this first run, I was a little bit too aggressive. Didn’t have my timing really.”
The warm temperatures and rainfall made the night race particularly challenging as a distinct groove formed in the course for later racers. Nevertheless, these ladies persisted through the salty, sloppy snow.
“Tonight, I was chasing in the second run, and I knew with Bernadette–she’s skiing so loose–I knew I had to go all out,” Shiffrin said. “I had nothing to lose and for all you Austrian fans, you should be so proud of her. I can’t imagine how much nerves she had, and she’s skiing amazing, so it’s really cool for me.”
Some people might think that the fact that Shiffrin’s coach Mike Day set the second run course was an advantage, but the reality is the American says she would rather not know they are doing it.
“My coaches have set a couple courses this year now and each time, I say ‘I don’t want to know. You just do it. I don’t want to know you’re gone. I don’t want to know you’re setting. Just don’t even tell me,” she shared. “Mike, he set just a normal course second run. It was not easy, just flowing. Nothing special and that was perfect because I could really focus on my skiing and not think, ‘Oh, I have to do well. My coach is setting.'”
This race marked the American’s 41st career win, fifth consecutive World Cup win and third win at the Austrian venue. She also matched Annemarie Moser-Proell’s record for most wins before the age of 23–a record she’s likely to surpass before her birthday in March. On a larger scale, she earned the United States’ 200th World Cup win in ladies’ events. Only Austria and Switzerland have more with 372 and 301 victories, respectively.
Schild was close to adding to Austria’s win count, but gave up too much time in the second half of the race. Despite that, the results matches her career-best result from Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in 2013.
“This is a really home race for me, so it was amazing today,” she said. “Well, I didn’t really feel pressure because the audience just gave me a lot of energy, and I was standing up there looking down and thought, ‘This is what I’ve been working for for the last couple of years.’…I’m second, so I’m really happy.”
The explosive crowd cheered on more than one Austrian to a top-10 finish. Katharina Truppe, Katharina Liensberger and Katharina Gallhuber earned fifth, eighth and 10th, respectively. Meanwhile, Hansdotter seemed disappointed to be on the third step after winning the event last year when Shiffrin got third place. Her third third-place result of the season was nothing to scoff at.
“I really love Flachau,” the Swede said. “I think it’s a fun hill to charge down. I have always skied good here, so good memories and good skiing.”
Resi Stiegler was the only other American to qualify for a second run. The World Cup veteran was in the green at the second split, but lost more than a second at the bottom after getting late and scrubbing speed. She ended the day in 26th place. Lila Lapanja and Katie Hensien also represented the U.S., but did not qualify for a second run.
The tech skiers now have some time off as the ladies’ tour heads to Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, for a speed series. Shiffrin will take some time off to train and rest before Cortina d’Ampezzo Jan. 19-21, giving the rest of the field a chance to try to close the gap in the World Cup overall standings.
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Bernadette Schild (AUT) – Head / Head / Head
- Frida Hansdotter (SWE) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Nina Haver-Loeseth (NOR) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Katharina Truppe (AUT) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Chiara Costazza (ITA) – Dynastar / Look / Lange
- Anna Swenn Larson (SWE) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Katharina Liensberger (AUT) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Nastasia Noens (ITA) – Salomon / Salomon / Salomon
- Katharina Gallhuber (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.|
|7||11||506146||SWENN LARSSON Anna||1991||SWE||57.71||55.99||1:53.70||+2.84|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|28||197319||BAUD MUGNIER Adeline||1992||FRA||59.24|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|57||425921||HAUGEN Kristine Gjelsten||1992||NOR||1:00.79|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|51||426100||HOLTMANN Mina Fuerst||1995||NOR|
|Disqualified 1st run|