ASPEN, Colo. – Reversing her misfortune from Friday’s giant slalom race, Mikaela Shiffrin skied the way the world has now grown accustomed to seeing en route to capturing her 16th career World Cup victory in record-setting fashion. Shiffrin dominated the rescheduled slalom originally planned for Levi, Finland, on Nov. 14th but later moved to Aspen. Second-place finisher Veronica Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia finished 3.07 seconds behind Shiffrin, and Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter claimed third, 3.26 seconds back.
Shiffrin’s winning margin is the largest in World Cup women’s slalom history, besting the previous record of 3.00 seconds flat set by Frenchwoman Florence Steurer in Abetone, Italy, all the way back in 1968.
For Shiffrin, the disappointment of failing to finish Friday’s GS within sight of the finish and victory well within her grasp only served as motivation coming into the first of two slaloms slated for Aspen.
“Sometimes I think that disappointment can hurt you, or drive you into the next races,” she said. “Yesterday, I made the decision that I was going to let it fuel me for today. I was really nervous the first run because it was the first slalom of the season, but I still had that pent up anger from yesterday and I was just thinking, ‘Use that, keep the fight, just keep fighting and take the risk because you don’t deserve to win races if you’re not taking some risk.’ So that’s what I did today, and it did pay off.”
Speaking of her record-setting margin of victory, Shiffrin was understandably excited. “It’s exciting. You know, it’s nice to break records and to make history, but I feel like so many things happen on a day-to-day basis, you could make history every single day in one way or another. It’s really cool. It’s one of probably the more cool records that I’ll ever have broken, but I also just as quickly have to go back and settle in. Tomorrow is a new race.”
Shiffrin’s victory snaps a 34-year winless streak for American women at Aspen, with Tamara McKinney last winning a giant slalom in March of 1981.
“In the U.S., we’ve had shots to get podiums and win here since the last one, every single season, basically,” Shiffrin said of the dry spell. “It’s been kind of a podium drought for us, so I’m really glad that for the whole team we got that out of the way, finally.”
Zuzulova’s second-place finish starts the 15-year veteran’s season off on the right foot, and she hopes to carry that momentum into the rest of the World Cup season.
“For sure I am really happy about my result, it’s my best start of the season ever,” she explained. “First run was really good, second run for sure the light wasn’t the best and was more fight the second run than the first run. It’s never easy to race here because it’s quite high in altitude. It’s tough, but I am really happy about my day today.”
Zuzulova, who is married to a coach of the French team, trains with the French ladies. She explained how having young racers always pushing her in training allows her to bring her best to race day.
“Since I train with the French girls, I feel really good,” she said. “To train with the young girls, they always try to push, to be better than me. I can’t sleep in training. I have to always push more and more and I think it’s still this that makes me faster and faster.”
Today’s result marked the 16th career World Cup podium for Hansdotter, who is one of the few racers who has been able to challenge Shiffrin for victories in recent years.
“It’s really great to start the slalom season with a podium, but Mikaela’s superiority with the margin of three seconds takes a little bit off from it,” she admitted. “But I’ll have a new chance tomorrow.”
Hansdotter appeared to struggle from the second intermediate time to the finish, something she felt was due to her set-up being too aggressive than was needed for the grippier snow found lower on the course.
For American Resi Stiegler, her 15th-place finish in her first World Cup since tearing her ACL last spring was exactly what the doctor ordered.
“I was really nervous today. I did some intense coming back this time, so I wasn’t really sure where I was standing. I did a couple NorAms coming into this and had some good sections, but I didn’t have what I wanted to see coming into here for confidence,” she explained. “It’s really hard to explain to people what it feels like. I can come back from anything, obviously, but when you get back in the gate, that’s your only time to shine. When I have a good moment or feel good, it’s like the most unbelievable feeling in the world.”
Petra Vlhova of Slovakia managed to claw her way from the 46th start position to ultimately finish an impressive 11th, clocking in the second fastest second run in the process.
Also noteworthy was the performance of Canadian national team member and University of Vermont sophomore, Laurence St. Germain. Following a successful season at the NorAm level, the Quebec native made her World Cup debut and fought her way into the flip, ultimately finishing a respectable 27th despite a costly mistake in the second run. Her teammates Marie-Michele Gagnon and Erin Mielzynski led the way for Canada in eighth and 10th, respectively.
“The nerves were pretty intense at the beginning, I couldn’t stop smiling because I was so happy to be here,” said St. Germain. “I came to the bottom and it was 22nd, and I was like, ‘Woah, I might do second run!'”
St. Germain also spoke of the importance her education has played in allowing her to ski to her fullest potential over the past year. “I think that having school and skiing is pretty much the best combination you can have, because when I go back to school, it just takes my mind off of skiing a little bit. When you have a rough time skiing and it’s not the way you want it to be, you can just focus on school and it feels so much better when you come back. I’m just more happy every time I put my skis on.”
The women will race slalom again tomorrow, closing out the weekend before the tour heads to Lake Louise, Alberta, for the annual speed series.
See more photos from this race here.
By Hank McKee
- Shiffrin, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Velez Zuzulova, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Hansdotter, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Strachova, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Pietilae-Holmner, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Noens,, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Holdner, Head/Head/Head
- Gagnon, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol
- Hector, Head/Head/Head
- Mielzynski, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Women’s World Cup slalom, Aspen, USA, Nov. 28, 2015. … This is a make-up race from Levi, Finland, where warm weather and a lack of snow forced a schedule change. … It is the third of 41 women’s races on the World Cup schedule … the first of ten scheduled slaloms, and the second of three races set for Aspen this season. … It is the 74th World Cup race hosted by Aspen. … The 22nd slalom. … Nicole Hosp won the most recent women’s slalom at Aspen Nov. 30, 2014. … Billy Kidd is the only American to win an Aspen World Cup slalom, March 15, 1968.
- It is the 16th career World Cup win for Mikaela Shiffrin … her 15th in slalom (a U.S. record). … It is the 289th U.S. World Cup win and the sixth at Aspen, first since Bill Johnson won a downhill March 4, 1984.
- It is the 20th career World Cup podium for Veronika Velez-Zuzulova … her first at Aspen.
- It is the 17th career World Cup podium for Frida Hansdotter … and her second in two seasons at Aspen.
- Marie-Michele Gagnon matched her Aspen result from last season, marking her 27th top-eight showing. … It is the ninth career top-10 placing for Erin Mielzynski, her first scored at Aspen. … It is the 36th top-15 placing for Resi Stiegler and her third best career result at Aspen. … It is the first career World Cup scoring finish for Laurence St Germain.
- Shiffrin takes command of the World Cup overall standings 180-160 over Federica Brignone (28th in race but did not score due to time gap to leader). … Lara Gut (did not race) is third overall with 150pts.
- Italy leads the women’ Nations Cup 421-321 over Sweden. … France is third with 238pts. … The U.S. is fifth with 196pts and Canada eighth with 95pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|2||4||705287||VELEZ ZUZULOVA Veronika||1984||SVK||49.39||53.49||1:42.88||+3.07||22.15|
|11||24||197319||BAUD MUGNIER Adeline||1992||FRA||50.69||54.79||1:45.48||+5.67||40.90|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|