Petra Vlhova won her first giant slalom in Semmering this season, and after Thursday she has officially earned the title of giant slalom World Champion. Her silver medal in the Alpine Combined early on the FIS Alpine World Championship’s week made Vlhova the first Slovakian skier to win a World Championship’s medal in an individual event.
“I didn’t expect that I would cross the finish line and I would be in first place. I was a little bit surprised because I felt that I did a few mistakes and I started thinking it’s not so good and I arrived to finish and I was first,” said Vlhova. “And finally I can show to everyone who is Petra Vlhova from Slovakia.”
Despite less than ideal conditions, the race and the women prevailed. Strong wind surges pushed the athletes up and across the hill, while rain softened the surface and the course started to give way. The chairlift stopped and started multiple times throughout the race. Many coaches and technicians thought it may be canceled. But at World Championships, the show must go on, and the athlete’s fought hard given the hand they were dealt. Success came as a surprise and comfort to many, particularly Mikaela Shiffrin.
Shiffrin’s third-place finish posed a bit of a shock after a tentative first run had her in fourth, 0.44 seconds behind the first-run leader, Viktoria Rebensburg. Shiffrin skied conservatively, trying to find the line between risk and reward in less than ideal conditions. A medal was unexpected and came with a sigh of relief and gratitude.
“I’m pretty happy tonight. My skiing was too safe [after the first run], and I wasn’t really happy with that. The second run was better, more fighting, more aggressive, and deserving of a podium much more. Coming away tonight with a bronze medal after a gold in super-G is very much a dream come true,” said Shiffrin.
Shiffrin had the first win of her career in Are, Sweden back in 2012. The venue continued to show her love when in Friday’s super-G she won her fourth world title. Thursday’s bronze becomes the sixth medal in her World Championship collection. Lindsey Vonn and Ted Ligety are the only other American athletes that have won more world championship medals than Shiffrin. Her teammate, Nina O’Brien, skied in her first ever World Championship race and finished in the top 30 at 21-years of age.
Rebensburg and Shiffrin had been vying to join an elite club of women that have won golds in both the Olympics and World Championships, but unfortunately for the two women, they both came up short. Rebensburg came closer to the gold than Shiffrin, finishing in second place 0.14 seconds back from Vlhova. Rebensburg also finished second to Vlhova in Semmering, Austria, the last race of the 2018/19 season where the German woman was able to find the podium.
“I think it’s a cool story since I raced my first World Champs here in 2007. For now it’s cool that I could win a medal here. For me, it’s a special place. said Rebensburg. “It was cool to be up there in the dark, seeing the moon and the stars…and I was also able to have a ski race. Everything today was going in a good direction and I was able to do what I wanted to do.”
The fastest second run of the group came from New Zealand’s Alice Robinson in bib 38, allowing her to jump 13 places in the final standings into 17th. Robinson had been first out of the gate after qualifying for the second run in 30th position and had the chance to compete on a clean course going into the second run. Sweden’s Sara Hector and France’s Clara Direz also stunned in the second run, pulling out the second and third fastest second run times. Defending champion Tessa Worley made a mistake in the first run that cost her a competitive time and finished the race in sixth overall.
The final World Championship race for the women will take place on Saturday, February 16th, where the athletes will compete in the slalom, before returning to the World Cup tour. The race will begin at 2:30 CET, 6:30 am EST.
- Petra Vlhova (SVK): 2:01.97 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Viktoria Rebensburg (GER): +0.19 – Stoeckli/Lange
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA): +0.38 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR): +0.50 – Head/Head/Head
- Federica Brignone (ITA): +0.87 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Tessa Worley (FRA): +.1.09 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Sara Hector (SWE): +1.94 – Head/Head/Head
- Clara Direz (FRA): +2.21 – Dynastar/Lange
- Coralie Frasse Sombet (FRA): +2.27 – Head/Head/Head
- Andrea Ellenberger (SUI): +2.42 – Stoeckli/Lange