Shiffrin Third in Sölden World Cup Giant Slalom Opener
Two-time defending World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) opened the season on an emotional note with her 63rd podium appearance, finishing third on a very difficult giant slalom course on the Rettenbach Glacier in Sölden, Austria, Saturday.
"It’s always nice to come back to Sölden,” said Shiffrin, who won in Sölden in 2014 and now has four podium finishes in the traditional season opener. “There are always emotions like nerves, and excitement and uncertainty about how I’m going to perform for the race.”
Coming off a summer of media, sponsor obligations and on and off snow training, the defending World Cup champion also carried expectations that as the best ski racer in the world, she would charge out of the gate and win.
"There are still expectations, but I’m trying not to pay so much attention to like ‘why should I feel so, so disappointed,'" she said. "Especially because I had a podium today. Of course, I want to win, but there are many girls out there who want to win. I was able to start the season with a podium and it's a great thing. It’s not enough, but it’s OK for now and it's a good place to start."
"I’m trying to be a little bit more open to saying ‘yeah, OK, that’s what we have,'" she added. "I know what lessons I learned and I'll just fight for the next races."
After finishing third in the first run, Tessa Worley of France charged down the bumpy track to hold on for her first career victory at the venue in Sölden. First run leader Federica Brignone of Italy made a few mistakes in the mid-section of the course on her second run, but found speed through the lower portion to hold off Shiffrin for the second podium spot.
"It was a huge fight, the slope was very bumpy, very difficult, we couldn't see much," Worley said. "I knew it was going to be a fight with the slope, and all the other girls, so I just wanted to charge and have no regrets at the end."
Snow, sleet, and wind forced race organizers to move the race eight gates down to the reserve start, and conditions varied dramatically from the top of the course to the finish, providing an inconsistent, unforgiving surface.
Three other starters for the U.S. Ski Team finished the first run but didn’t make the top 30 to qualify for the second run. Nina O’Brien (Denver, Colo.) was 52nd, Tricia Mangen (Buffalo N.Y.) 63rd, and AJ Hurt (Carnelian Bay, Calif.) 64th.
The women’s FIS Ski World Cup continues Nov. 17 with a slalom event in Levi, Finland. The opening men’s World Cup giant slalom of the season is scheduled for Sunday on the Rettenbach Glacier.
Women’s giant slalom
HOW TO WATCH
*All times EST.
SATURDAY, OCT. 28
World Cup women’s GS, Sölden, AUT - full event replay available on NBC Sports Gold*
* The NBC Sports Gold ‘Snow Pass’ provides access to every second of race action throughout the season. Whoever you support, their races will be broadcast on the Snow Pass. NBC will also email you prior to each event to remind you of live broadcast times on Snow Pass, and if you can’t watch live, the entire event will be available to replay, all for under 20 cents per day.