Shiffrin Takes Slalom Title, Wins Back-To-Back In Squaw
Mikaela Shiffrin did it again! A day after winning the giant slalom, Shiffrin won again, this time in slalom at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup in front of 12,000 fans on a sunny California day.
Shiffrin locked up the 2017 slalom discipline title on Saturday with her second win in as many days at Squaw Valley (USA). She was joined on the podium by Czech skier Sarka Strachova in second and Austrian Bernadette Schild in third.
“I love the crowd,” Shiffrin said. “They cheered so hard! It’s just awesome that 12,000 people today came to watch. In the U.S., that’s so big, and we loved hearing them!”
Saturday’s victory was Shiffrin’s 25th World Cup slalom win and puts her squarely in the driver’s seat to win her first overall World Cup title next week in Aspen, Colorado.
“It definitely takes some pressure off in Aspen,” said Shiffrin, who now leads Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec by 378 points with four races remaining. "I feel like I can go in and just try to enjoy the races a bit having secured the slalom globe and having such a big lead in the overall. But at the same time, the overall isn’t totally secure yet, and I really want to have a solid performance in front of the home-state crowd there.”
(The slalom title) was my first, highest goal so it’s pretty important but I tried not to think about it in the first run today or at all today and now I can think about that a bit more; I’m quite excited," said Shiffrin. "“I made recoveries and came out with the win, and I think Wendy (Holdener) was going for it. I know how it feels to lose it on the last two gates and that absolutely sucks. It’s a huge bummer. I knew there was a chance (to win both races), and I just tried to do my best to make it happen and I’m very happy to be on this side of the weekend.”
Holdener lead Shiffrin by only 0.02 seconds after the first run but skied out on the final gates of the course.
"The hill is quite difficult. It’s steep and you have to push from the start to the finish,” Steachova said. “I felt quite comfortable in the first run, maybe too much, and I lost a little more time. In the second run, the course was a bit broken and it’s not my cup of tea, but I tried to take a risk and when I went through the finish and I saw that I was in the lead, I believed that maybe it could be a podium.”
For Schild, it was her first podium in three years and also the first ladies' slalom podium of the season for Austria.
"I like difficult races so I knew this hill with the steep start and the rollers at the bottom could be something for me. I had quite the mistake in the first run actually but I knew that if I do my thing and ski technically the way I can, I really can make the podium. Wendy was leading after first run and she was really close to finishing but she went out but that’s how it is and I got third," said Schild.
Shiffrin also won her fourth career slalom crystal globe, after Slovenia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova skied out on the first run, becoming the first skier in history to win the World Championships slalom title and the World Cup overall slalom title in the same year for the third time.
But it wasn’t easy. Skiing on a steep, relentless and fast course, Shiffrin finished second to Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener on the first run. In the second run, just two gates in, Shiffrin got twisted on the steep pitch. But she took the next few gates to find her rhythm, and in characteristic Shiffrin style, drilled the bottom third of the course to take the lead by 1.03 from Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic.
Then it was up to Holdener, who skied the top of the course well, but had to gas the bottom to unseat the American. After the third interval, Holdener held a slim 0.12 advantage, but disaster struck with a few gates remaining as she hooked a tip and skied out.
Strachova finished second, followed by Austria’s Bernadette Schild in third. Megan McJames (Park City, UT) did not qualify for the second run. Resi Stiegler (Jackson, WY) and Lila Lapanja (Incline Village, NV) did not finish the first run.
Up next, the World Cup Finals take place in Aspen, Colorado, March 13-19. Downhill training is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, with the downhill race scheduled for Wednesday.