Two races, two wins. It looks like American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin is coming into her own in the speed disciplines. Shiffrin took her second World Cup super-G in a row on Saturday, winning in St. Moritz, Switzerland. With overnight snow falling on the Swiss mountain town that hosted the 2017 World Ski Championships and the notoriously unpredictable fog, known to locals as the “Maloja Snake,” racers and organizers were pleasantly surprised to be treated to a near-perfect day of racing with sunshine and blue skies abound by the time racing got underway.
If there was one key take-away from Saturday’s race, it was the concept of speed management. Fast and flowy with lots of terrain, the super-G in St. Moritz caught numerous racers off guard with increased speeds, causing serious underestimations and line errors throughout the 57-racer field. In fact, four of the first 10 starters did not cross the finish line and in total there were an unusually high 17 DNFs in Saturday’s super-G.
Shiffrin ran with bib 12 and executed to near perfection en-route to securing her 47th World Cup victory and second in super-G. Swiss star Lara Gut-Behrami found herself in second place, 0.28 seconds back, and Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather rounded out the podium in third, 0.42 seconds off of Shiffrin’s winning pace.
“I did not expect to win today,” admitted Shiffrin. “I just tried to execute the right plan and what my coaches said. My skis were perfect and the feeling was good, so it worked by the end. Two tenths is not a lot of time but I was on the right side of the green light today so I can enjoy that.”
Shiffrin, too, was caught slightly off guard by the increased speed on course but was able to watch the first few racers’ mistakes and learn from them before taking to the course herself. Super-G is known as one of the sport’s hardest events to win for this very reason. High, unpredictable speeds and no training runs can make for erratic racing if racer’s do not pay close attention to how the racers before them handled key sections. How certain parts of the course look during inspection can run completely different at race speeds.
“It was a little bit tricky, some of the sections in this course, if you are off balance then there was no chance but with a good position, it was ok,” she added. “It was very lucky and an advantage to watch some of the girls and to get a course report from the coaches. Some days it’s an advantage to go first, today I say it was an advantage to have a little time so I’m very lucky with that.”
Shiffrin’s newfound success in this speed discipline is no accident, the 23-year-old worked on her speed skiing this summer and minded the finer details necessary to find success in the events of downhill and super-G.
“I really paid attention to my super-G this summer when we were at the speed camp in Chile I was making sure to really find a good setup and find the good line, the tactics, the good technique, all of these pieces that I felt like I was missing a little bit,” she said after the race.
Saturday was Gut-Behrami’s first World Cup podium since she won the super-G in Cortina, Italy, in January. The 2016 Swiss Overall World Cup Champion has struggled to find consistency since then and hopes to find herself back on the top of the podium soon.
“It was cool,” Gut said of her race. “I had fun and tried to ski fast. Not quite what I wanted, I’m still working on my fast lines and finding again the courage to just go straight to the gates but it’s coming back. I know the way that I have to do and I enjoy that because I love to do races and compete on the slope today with the perfect weather.”
Weirather took to the course with bib seven and was the first of the top-seeded racers to really figure out the tricky set. The Liechtensteiner attacked where she could and skied smart where she had to and crossed the line with an advantage of well over a full second. The defending super-G globe winner will no doubt be looking to climb higher on the podium in the coming races.
“It ran different than I inspected; I thought it was going to be really easy,” Weirather explained. “The speed was much higher than expected so I was in trouble all the way down and I was not skiing where I inspected so I was really surprised about my time in the finish but I knew, obviously, that it’s possible to go faster. The speed was hard to guess because it was quite a fluid course but the snow looked kind of cold and if there’s cold snow, it’s not very fast but today it was. I’m lucky and happy with my third place.”
Following Shiffrin for the Americans was Laurenne Ross, who finished in 27th place, 2.56 second back. Alice Merryweather was the only other American starter in 39th.
The women will now race parallel slalom on Sunday, Dec. 9, in St. Moritz. Qualification runs are set to begin at 10:30am local time with the knockout rounds beginning at 1:30pm.
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI)- Head/Head/Head
- Tina Weirather (LIE)- Head/Head/Head
- Raghnild Mowinckel (NOR)- Head/Head/Head
- Michelle Gisin (SUI)- Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Marie-Michelle Gagnon (CAN)- Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Joana Haehlen (SUI)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Viktoria Rebensburg (GER)- Stoeckli/Lange
- Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT)- Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Stephanie Venier (AUT)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
For complete FIS results, please click here.