Shiffrin Wins Courchevel Giant Slalom For Fourth Time

It was a bright and sunny December day in Courchevel, the home of the upcoming 2023 FIS World Championships, with the World Cup women attacking the long and demanding giant slalom. Sara Hector of Sweden—Shiffrin has long lauded her skiing—had the fastest second run to land her in second place, .86 seconds behind Shiffrin. Michelle Gisin of Switzerland was third, 1.08 behind.

Shiffrin was the leader after the first run with a commanding .74 second advantage over the field and she continued to build on it throughout second run. She crushed the top of the exhausting course, and took a little off on the bottom to ski to her 14th giant slalom victory and sixth career win in Courchevel on the Emile Allais Slope—making her tally at Courchevel the highest at any resort. 

Building on a big lead from the first run, the Olympic champion finished the race on the Emile Allais course 0.86 seconds ahead of Sara Hector (SWE), who posted the fastest second-run time. Gisin (SUI), who was second after the opening run, Back on the podium for the first time since ... Courchevel last season, the Swedish skier was happy to settle for 2nd place, just ahead of Michelle Gisin in tears in the finish area after securing her first podium of the season. Too far after a first run where Shiffrin had blown away the competition, Slovakian Petra Vlhova failed to finish in 4th place (+1''44) for her return to competition, more than three weeks after Killington.

Shiffrin reclaimed the overall world cup lead from Sofia Goggia, who failed to finish her second run after losing her balance when hitting a bump on the icy surface.

The U.S. Alpine Ski Team packed four into the points in Courchevel, France, led by Mikaela Shiffrin, who threw down two stellar giant slalom runs to take her 72nd FIS World Cup win. Nina O’Brien and Paula Moltzan were 15th and 16th, respectively, and AJ Hurt was 28th.

“It’s incredible,” said Shiffrin. “It was really quite difficult, to be honest—tiring today! Even after the first run, I wasn’t sure I could do the second run. It’s a big push and for every athlete racing, we had to dig very deep and just fight and be aggressive. I think I did that quite well. I’m certainly happy with the day.”

The win came directly after taking fifth in Val d’Isere super-G—a new stop on the World Cup tour for Shiffrin. “I feel some motivation now and feel a lot more fire after these last weeks,” said Shiffrin. “That was the first time I ever raced in Val d’Isere—years and years of wanting to go there and try it and we finally did it this year. To come here today was a big question in my mind if it was a right decision and if it was going to be too much, so to be able to ski this way today even with fatigue and less energy is very spectacular.”

The race was also one year after Shiffrin’s return to the World Cup podium after her father’s death. When asked about what Courchevel means to her, given the emotional weight of the venue on her mind, she said this year’s race was different than last year’s race. “There was just so much leading up to the victory last year,” she recalled. “It was so different from anything I knew or had experienced before. I feel like I’ve settled into my new self a little bit more at this point.”

Shiffrin’s win bumped her 35 points ahead of Sofia Goggia in the overall standings, who had overtaken Shiffrin after winning twice in Val d’Isere but did not finish second run in Courchevel.  

O’Brien and Moltzan also had excellent days, both putting down blazing second runs to take 15th and 16th place. “I’m just happy to finally put some good turns and link them top to bottom and come down in the green,” said Moltzan, who had the sixth-fastest second run. “I was really happy. As ski racers, you’re always looking for the green light and when you finally get it after not seeing it so much, it’s a good feeling. It’s definitely a really challenging GS course.”

AJ Hurt was 28th at the venue where she scored her first GS points and had her career-best finish in 2020. This was her fourth time scoring points in GS.

Keely Cashman did not qualify for a second run and Katie Hensien did not finish the first run but is OK.

Following Tuesday's giant slalom, the American women continue to lead in the nations standings. The Americans also currently lead the nations standings in slalom. The depth of this women's tech team is something this generation of women has never before experienced. 

Notably missing from the race were Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland, Austrian Katharina Liensberger and New Zealand’s Alice Robinson who had all tested positive for COVID-19.

On the French side, we will note the excellent performance of Tessa Worley who finished in fifth place and the good second round of Coralie Frasse Sombet which allowed her to rank seventeenth.

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