On a stunning day in Courchevel, France, Mikaela Shiffrin made her triumphant and emotional return to the top step on the podium in a FIS World Cup. Young gun AJ Hurt took home her first World Cup giant slalom points, and top-20, in 18th place.
After an issue with the snow, in which the course was watered after heavy snowfall on Saturday and then groomed, the track was deemed unfit for racers for the previously scheduled Sunday giant slalom. But Sunday’s postponement left a hard and fast track for the women on Monday under blazing sunlight and it was worth the wait to see Mikaela take her first World Cup win in almost a year.
It was a beautiful moment when she crossed the finish line ahead of the field, as the community at the bottom of the hill realized that this was Mikaela’s first win after her father’s sudden passing. Mikaela took a moment in the finish corral, sitting on her skis and hugging her legs—seemingly letting it all wash over her. Emotions ran higher when she stepped off the podium and into her mom’s arms, as she cried through her post-race interview.
“It was a pretty incredible day, obviously,” said Mikaela through tears. “But I’m pretty sad. I mean, it’s a bit bittersweet. But it’s pretty special.”
Mikaela won the first run, but only by seven-hundredths and she knew she had to keep up her energy and stamina to hammer out a strong second run for the win. And given that this was only her second giant slalom race after over 300 days off the World Cup circuit, she wasn’t sure she could do it. “I didn’t really know if I could come back to this level. It’s a lot of energy to focus like that and to put the toughness and strength in your skiing,” said Mikaela. “I’ve done it—I used to do it all the time—but I’m at a different place and didn’t know if I could do it again.”
But Mikaela proved herself wrong and threw down a stellar second run on the swingy-set course to take the win by .82 seconds—her first victory since January 2020 and first giant slalom win since December 2019. Behind Mikaela, Federica Brignone of Italy finished second—a particularly impressive feat given that she went down on her hip in the second run—and Tessa Worley of France was third.
Mikaela was quick to commend her teammates, rivals, coaches and family. “It’s a really big testament to my coaches and my mom and everybody around me—my whole team, my family,” said Mikaela. “I definitely didn’t ski alone today. I had a lot of strength from a lot of people to help me get down.”
Sunday’s win was Mikaela’s 67th FIS World Cup victory, tying her with the legendary Marcel Hirscher and placing her third on the overall win list, behind Ingemar Stenmark and Lindsey Vonn. “I was thinking a lot about his skiing today—so that’s pretty cool,” said Mikaela.
AJ Hurt, who celebrated her 20th birthday last weekend, had a huge day, grabbing her first-ever World Cup second run and subsequent World Cup points with a top-20 finish. “I’m very excited,” she said. “I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be!” AJ's result earned the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team women's tech crew another World Cup giant slalom spot in their quota.
Paula Moltzan, Keely Cashman and Nina O’Brien also started for the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team in Courchevel, but did not qualify for a second run.