After skipping the speed races in Val Gardena to regroup and train in Norway, Mikaela Shiffrin won the giant slalom in Courchevel over German Viktoria Rebensburg and Frenchwoman Tessa Worley. After her first run, Shiffrin had been tied for second with Austrian Stephanie Brunner, eight hundredths behind Rebensburg. Despite conditions being more favorable in the morning than in the afternoon, Shiffrin kept it together and fought through the heavy snow and rough track to earn her 49th World Cup win.
“Today was a really exciting race. It was so tight that you really didn’t know what was happening in the second run,” said Shiffrin. “”My coaches, in the second run, they said nothing about the conditions, nothing about the visibility. They just said ‘you have to go, you have to be tough, it is a sprint and you have to show that you are a tough racer.'”
In 2017, she won both the giant slalom and the parallel slalom in Courchevel. On Friday, her giant slalom win means she has now won three consecutive times at the venue, tying Austrian Marlies Schild’s record for most women’s wins in Courchevel. Not to mention she now has won the giant slalom seven times overall, two wins behind American Tamara McKinney who is the winningest giant slalom female in U.S. Ski Team history. If Shiffrin can pull out a slalom win tomorrow, she will have 50 overall wins under her belt.
“It’s a really cool thing to be in this position. I’m 23, at this point my career almost 50 wins I have to say that’s really special and incredible for me. I never expected that. If you asked me 5 years ago I would never think that I could be in this position. I’m proud of it.”
Rebensburg has won 14 World Cup giant slalom’s, falling behind Annemarie Moser-Pröll, who has 16 wins, and Vreni Schneider, who has 20. But on Friday a few mistakes in the second run cost her her lead over Shiffrin, and the German had to settle for second place. Although not a win, Rebensburg was happy with her performance given her history in Courchevel. In 2017, Rebensburg struggled in the giant slalom, finishing in 14th.
“I’ve had a tough time in Courchevel the last years, I wasn’t really skiing well here. That’s why I’m happy, I’ll take the second [place],” she said in the finish.
The race was tight after the first run, with six racers packed into the top of the field. The farthest woman out from Rebensburg (who was winning after the first run), was Italian Federica Brignone. She trailed by 0.27 seconds. With the snow rolling in just in time for the second run, the FIS decided to start the race from the reserve start, making the second course 10 gates shorter than the first. Rebensburg knew after the announcement that the race was now anyone’s game.
“It’s my first podium in GS this season so far. I was fighting a lot the last two races. It’s always a battle between us. There are so many girls who can actually win a race. That’s why it’s tough in GS,” she said. “For sure the slope is not the longest, and since they lowered down the start and made it even shorter, I knew we’d get a tight race.”
In her return from injury, Tessa Worley managed to get back on the podium in third. Her crash in Lake Louise in early December left her with a knee injury that forced her to take 10 days off, and miss the races in St.Moritz and Val Gardena. It was not until the night before her GS start in Courchevel that the Frenchwoman reported feeling 100% about her return.
“Last night I saw it was going to be okay. This morning it was a little stiff, but with a good warm-up, it was good and most importantly I don’t feel any pain,” said Worley. “There was no reason I should be afraid of it. My goal today was to just have a lot of fun because I was just happy to be here and to be racing.”
Worley, who won the first giant slalom of the season in Soelden, was clearly the crowd favorite in Courchevel. Hoards of screaming children with signs and French flags crowded the finish, a sight that made Worley’s podium all the more special.
“In front of the home crowd, I was able to give 100%. Having a podium in here in Courchevel, it’s just so so great. I have a lot of people from my [home] here, and there’s so many kids here cheering for me…” she said. “I’m very proud always to be someone that they are looking up to. I just want to show them that anything is possible.”
Worley’s teammate, Adeline Mugnier also broke into the top 10 on Friday’s giant slalom. Mugnier has not finished in the top 10 since the giant slalom in Courchevel in 2017.
Americans Tricia Mangan and A.J. Hurt both did not finish their first runs.
To wrap up the tech weekend in Courchevel, the women race slalom starting at 10:30am CET. The second run is scheduled for 1:30 CET.
1.Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 1:49.81 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER): +0.14 – Stoeckli/Lange
5. Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR): +0.50 – Head/Head/Head
6. Stephanie Brunner (AUT): +0.78 – Head/Head/Head
7. Anna Veith (AUT): +0.91 – Head/Head/Head
10. Adeline Mugnier (FRA): +1.39 – Head/Head/Head
For FIS official results, click here.