Afterburners Launch Shiffrin To World Cup Win No. 48
Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) doesn't often make mistakes, but when she does, she turns on the afterburners to simply burn the competition. This time, she fired up victory number 48 in Sunday’s FIS Ski World Cup parallel slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland - her third-straight World Cup victory.
Facing Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova in the finals - a rematch of last season’s parallel finals in Courchevel, France - Shiffrin, and Vlhova were neck-and-neck out of the gate. Then Shiffrin made an uncharacteristic mistake when she got off-balance coming through a right ski turn. The mistake knocked her back on her tails, allowing Vhlova to take the lead. But in Shiffrin’s trademark hard-finishing fashion, she hit the afterburners, pulled even with Vhlova and then squeaked through with a 0.11-second victory on the 32-gate course.
“It was a big fight, especially in the final,” Shiffrin said. “I was really going crazy, maybe a little bit too hard. I felt like I was a bit off the course and I could see Petra always on my side going a little bit ahead...and I was thinking ‘Oh no, go faster!’”
Shiffrin was the top qualifier for Sunday's event, and easily managed her way through the opening rounds, defeating Canada’s Laurence St. Germain in the round of 32 by 1.31 seconds, and Norway’s Mina Holtmann in the round of 16 by 0.62 seconds. Shiffrin first real test came in the quarterfinal round when she defeated Norway’s Nina Haver-Loeseth by just 0.20 seconds. In the semifinal, she won against Austria’s Katharina Liensberger by 0.56. Meanwhile, Vlhova defeated the crowd favorite, Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, by 0.02 seconds - the smallest winning margin of the day in the semifinal to set up the rematch against Shiffrin.
“It was a big fight, but that’s what makes it exciting,” Shiffrin said of the parallel racing format. “For people who watch and for us, the athletes, and that's a special thing about the event...it's really cool."
“I like (parallel slalom) a lot actually,” she added. “It’s so different from everything else, and it makes the schedule a little bit tougher when I’m trying to do every event, and especially with yesterday and the super-G, I have never had a series of races in one weekend that was so different...so that was a big challenge to refocus for today. But it worked, so I can’t complain.”
With Shiffrin taking the victory, and Vlhova in second, Holdener defeated Liensberger in the small final to finish third.
Shiffrin has won five of the nine World Cup events contested so far this season and holds a commanding lead in her quest for her third-straight overall World Cup title. She also leads the slalom and super-G standings. She will not compete in the upcoming speed events, moved from Val d’Isere, France, to Val Gardena, Italy the week of Dec. 18-23, as she plans to enjoy some "downtime" and continue training for the traditional holiday series of tech events, kicking off Dec. 21-22 in Courchevel, France, and then onward to Semmering, Austria Dec. 28-29; a city event Jan. 1 in Oslo, Norway; and continuing Jan. 5, 6-8 in Zagreb, Croatia.
Shiffrin also donated a portion of her weekend’s St. Moritz prize money toward former Head of Swiss Ski Team and two-time president of Switzerland's Adolf Ogi's "Freude Herrscht" Foundation, created in his late son Mathias Ogi's (who died at age 35 due to a rare form of cancer) honor. "Freude Herrscht" translates to "happiness rules" or "joy prevails," and the foundation supports developing youth through sports participation.
Veteran slalom specialist Resi Stiegler (Jackson, Wyo.) also participated in today's qualifier, but did not qualify for the race.
Women’s parallel slalom
WORLD CUP STANDINGS
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Preliminary schedule, subject to change
*Same-day delayed broadcast
Sunday, Dec. 8
5:00 p.m. - Women’s parallel slalom, St. Moritz, SUI - NBCSN-TV*
Sunday, Dec. 16
3:45 a.m. - Giant slalom run 1 - Alta Badia, ITA - OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. - Giant slalom run 2 - Alta Badia, ITA - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
6:00 p.m. - Giant slalom run 2 - Alta Badia, ITA - NBCSN-TV*