She’s said it multiple times this season, and she’ll say it again. The super-G globe was not part of the plan. In 2018, Mikaela Shiffrin set out to achieve three things – the overall title, the giant slalom title, and the slalom title. So far, she’s checked off two of those boxes, having clinched the overall title and the slalom title before the final races in Soldeu. In the giant slalom, she leads the standings by 97 points. Only three points, Petra Vlhova, and herself stand in the way of her checking off the third box.
But early in the season, when points were still variable, and a few races separated Shiffrin from the final globe, a decision had to be made. Sacrifice her energy to pursue a potential super-G globe and in turn sacrifice the slalom or giant slalom title, or take the time to reinvest in her technical training and herself, letting the remainder of the super-G season run its course, without her actively involved in it.
Shiffrin chose to skip the super-G races in St. Anton and Sochi during crucial times of the season, when her lead could have easily been overtaken by the closely pursuing Tina Weirather or Nicole Schmidhofer. But Shiffrin came to terms with that, and recognized that in order to be the best in the technical events, something had to give. Luckily for her, the weather dumped snow over the track in Sochi, causing not one, but two super-G’s to be canceled, and Shiffrin found herself walking into Soldeu unexpectedly still bearing the leader bib in the super-G discipline.
“I had pretty much vowed that I wouldn’t be skiing another super-G this year, but I thought for whatever reason, this is how it’s working out and I have to take advantage of this opportunity, this might never happen again,” said Shiffrin. “My mentality has been much like it has been all season. I feel like I’ve been in this position where super-G has really clicked, and it’s been super fun, but I keep getting to the finish and not knowing where I’m gonna end up, and then it ends up being really great.”
Prior to the 2018/19 season, Shiffrin had yet to win a super-G race. Last year, she says, the discipline felt “off”. Her skis weren’t there, the rhythm wasn’t there, and she didn’t feel confident on a super-G track. In December, when she won her first super-G in Lake Louise, it was like a switch had been flipped. The difference a year made was night and day, and her success in super-G came as the “icing on the cake” of a great season. On Thursday, she finished fourth in the final super-G race of the season, but to her, it felt like she had won the race.
“I’ve dreamed about someday maybe being able to win a globe in super-G, but I really wasn’t expecting something like this this season,” said Shiffrin. “I’ve just been giggling all day, I’m so happy.”
Shiffrin notes that throughout her career, she has had a difficult time closing out the giant slalom with the kind of strength and consistency she sees in her skiing during the rest of the World Cup season in the discipline. Slalom, no problem. But as soon as giant slalom Sunday comes, she’s lost the motivation. This year, she’s hoping to change that.
“I’m looking forward to having this kind of a battle. This is the best position I’ve ever been in at this point in the season in GS, and I’m already proud of that. This is kind of final goal, that I had actually stated for this season, and I’m switching my focus to that,” said Shiffrin. “It feels like GS had been such a long time coming, even though I’m still young. It’s one of those things I have been working on, and I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m starting to find a feeling in my GS that I never knew existed. If nothing else I want to close out the season on a strong performance and a motivated performance.”
While Shiffrin looks forward to the remainder of her races at World Cup Finals, Nicole Scmidhofer and Tina Weirather have concluded their season as silver and bronze medalists in the super-G standings. Weirather had trailed Shiffrin by a mere 32 points headed into the final race in Soldeu. Schmidhofer followed Weirather by an even smaller margin o 15 points. Unfortunately for Weirather, she was unable to hang on during the tight middle section of the course, and fell victim to a late line, skiing out and finishing her season with a DNF. Schmidhofer tied Shiffrin for fourth, 0.44 seconds off of the racer winner, Viktoria Rebensburg, and overtook second place in the standings.
Rebensburg super-G win followed up a strong, second place finish in the downhill on Wednesday, her best performance in either event in the 2018/19 season. Rebensburg has struggled to find her groove in the speed events, with a few giant slalom podiums sprinkled throughout the winter. To podium in the final two speed events of the season, and earn her first win after standing on the second tier of the podium so many times, she said was nothing short of rewarding.
“I just try to keep up the flow. It’s always easier when you have a flow when it’s working and you don’t need to really think about things. You just go in the start and execute, and that’s what I did yesterday and today,” said Rebensburg.
Austrian Tamara Tippler followed Rebensburg by 0.15 hundredths, finishing in second. Italian Federica Brignone finished on the super-G podium for the first time this season in third, 0.34 seconds off of Rebensburg’s winning time.
1. Viktoria Rebensburg (GER): 1:23.91 – Stoeckli/ Lange
2. Tamara Tippler (AUT): +0.15 – Salomon/Salomon
3. Federica Brignone (ITA): +0.34 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
4. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA): +0.44 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT): +0.44 – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
6. Jasmine Flury (SUI): +0.52 – Stoeckli/ Lange
7. Sofia Goggia (ITA): +0.56 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8. Kajsa Vickhoff Lie (NOR): +0.68 – Head/Head/Head
9. Nadia Fanchini (ITA): +0.82 – Dynastar/Lange
10. Corinne Suter (SUI): +0.85 – Head/Head/Head
For full FIS results, click here.