Mikaela Shiffrin has once again conquered the icy slope of Superstar in Killington, Vermont, taking the win for the fourth year in a row by a whopping 2.29 seconds over Petra Vlhova. Her 42nd slalom victory chalked her win record up to 63 total, officially putting her side by side with her childhood inspiration, Austria’s Anna-Marie Moser-Proell, as the second winningest woman in the sport. The only other woman who has won more that Moser-Proell and Shiffrin is Lindsey Vonn.
For Shiffrin to win by such a large margin on home soil speaks to her prowess in handling pressure and an incredibly difficult course that threw a majority of the field off their game. Conditions were the talk of the town on day two of the Killington World Cup. An icy slope, flat light, and a turny set made for a gritty slalom. Even athletes that ended the day on the podium, such as Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson, said that the course was not one that any of the women felt good on. Shiffrin called the surface bulletproof and intimidating, and Vlhova said she had not skied ice quite like that in years.
“Anywhere else, I might have gotten bumped off the course,” said Shiffrin. “But the crowd here really carried me down the hill. It felt wild. Nobody likes to fall, but I really don’t like to fall. I felt really scrappy in the second run and was doing everything I could to keep my skis moving and make it down the course.”
Close followers of Shiffrin were curious as to whether or not she would be at all put off due to the recent death of her grandmother, who played a large role in her life as a mentor, inspiration, and confidante. Killington held a special place in their relationship, and this race was her first race back at the venue in the wake of her absence.
“She’s been on my mind in every race I’ve ever skied, so this was no different,” explained Shiffrin. “I think I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing feelings and emotions so when I come out on race day it’s like get your ducks in a row and go for it. Today was similar. I didn’t want to feel like I was racing for her, but in a way I’m always racing for her because she was one of my absolute biggest supporters and my biggest inspiration. I didn’t want to feel like my motivation for racing changed just because this tragic thing happened in our family. There’s some feelings there that I kind of put away so I can focus on the racing.”
While it was a good day for Shiffrin, it was less so for the rest of the American athletes. No immediate major injuries have been announced from the national teams of the women who did not complete their runs, although Paula Moltzan (who opted out of the giant slalom the day before due to a tweaked back), may not have been so lucky. Moltzan had been charging, coming into the final split well on her way to a top five finish in the first run. Until she lost her edge, took a tumble, and began a slide for life about a 100 yards down the course until finally colliding with the b-netting above the finish.
“I started the morning with a pretty sore back after skiing yesterday, and coming into the run I was able to get a good warm-up in and get my back feeling pretty normal,” said Moltzan. “I felt really good skiing all the way down and as soon as I hit the fence it kind of went up in flames. We were training before Mikaela before Levi and I was able to stay pretty close with her, so it’s nice to see it come out in a race. Obviously finding the finish line is pretty fun too but to not be able to find it today in front of this awesome crowd is a bummer.”
Moltzan left the race to meet with a physio and have some work done on her back. She has yet to announce the full extent of the injury and if she will have to take any time off from the tour.
Despite the struggles from the majority of the field, there was some solid racing and results for athletes like Norway’s Nina Haver-Loeseth and Canada’s Roni Remme. Haver-Loeseth once again finished in fifth, following a strong finish in Levi. The 30-year-old had been sitting in 17th after the first run, but came out charging hard in the second to win the run overall and jump back into the top 10.
Remme punched in one of the top results of her career, finishing in seventh overall, her best performance in Killington and in the slalom so far on the World Cup. Remme has been on the podium before in Alpine Combined, but is still looking to find that consistent speed in the slalom. On Sunday she fought through a challenging course to prove that she has what it takes to finish in the top 10 more often.
“I barely made it down second run,” said Remme. “It was a fight. Levi was a tough race for the whole team, including myself. It’s always a bummer to cross the finish and not qualify for a second run. So today felt good, helps me to get a better sense of where I line up right now and see that there’s more there.”
Americans Katie Hensien, Nina O’Brien, and Foreste Peterson, also were unable to finish their first run. Keely Cashman did not qualify for a second run. Remme’s teammate, Laurence St. Germain, qualified for a second run after finishing 14th, but faced similar issues to the rest of the field and could not finish her second run.
Next the women head to Lake Louise, Canada to compete in the super-G and downhill events from December 6th-7th.
- Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) – 1:50.45 – Atomic/Atomic
- Petra Vlhova (SVK) – +2.29 – Rossignol/Rossignol
- Anna Swenn Larsson (SWE) – +2.73 – Head / Head
- Christina Ackermann (GER) – +3.08 – Rossignol/Rossignol
- Nina Haver-Loeseth (NOR) – +3.41 – Rossignol/Rossignol
- Katharina Liensberger (AUT) – +3.73 –Rossignol/Rossignol
- Roni Remme (CAN) – +3.88 – Rossignol/Rossignol
- Katharina Gallhuber (AUT) – +4.15 – Atomic/Atomic
- Michelle Gisin (SUI) – +4.28 – Rossignol/Rossignol
- Irene Curtoni (ITA) – +4.40 – Rossignol/Rossignol
For full race results, click here.