Shiffrin Wins Cortina Super-G, Extends World Cup Lead
On a perfect sun-splashed course in the Italian Alps, Mikaela Shiffrin (Avon, Colo.) trusted her instincts and equipment and came away with another FIS Ski World Cup victory in super-G Sunday in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Starting 17th with the red World Cup leader’s bib, Shiffrin, who also leads the World Cup super-G standings, watched a few competitors before her, including teammate Lindsey Vonn (Vail, Colo.), struggle on the Olympia delle Tofane course.
“I watched a couple girls going and I was thinking, ‘Ok..there are maybe two or three points on the course you really need to be on the right direction, and otherwise, it’s just to be aggressive,’” Shiffrin said. “I was comfortable with my skis and really, really comfortable with my setup, so I feel like I can do whatever I want if the surface is good, and today the surface was really nice.”
After inspecting the course, Shiffrin admitted she was a bit nervous, but all that disappeared once she was in the start.
“I was just kind of thinking ‘oh, the course looks tricky and a little bit more difficult than I thought from my inspection,’” she said.”But at the end when I started, I was just trying to trust my line and be aggressive. And yeah, I’m a little bit lucky...it’s super tight, but I’m happy to be on that side of the green light.”
Unlike most athletes who raced in Sunday's super-G, Shiffrin did not ski either of the downhill training runs or the downhills at the venue, which can be a more challenging way to head into a super-G race. But for Shiffrin - who had a solid day of super-G training in Sarntal, Italy prior to arriving to Cortina - it was no problem.
Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was second, followed by Tamara Tippler of Austria in third. Laurenne Ross (Bend, Ore.) was 23rd. Vonn and Alice Merryweather (Hingham, Mass.) were among the 22 athletes who did not finish, but both skied away and are OK. Vonn was making up time as she skied down the track but got pulled pretty low and couldn't make the next left footer, crossing her arms in front of her and skiing through the panel.
“I haven’t quite processed everything yet,” an emotional Vonn said after her DNF. “I can’t seem to stop crying. It’s been a lot of great memories here in Cortina. I tried to really ski my best, I tried to come through the finish and make a good result for the fans here, but I didn’t quite do that.
“It’s just hard. I thought it would be easier honestly. But it’s not,” she continued while mentioning the support she has received from other athletes, including Italy’s Sofia Goggia, who is also working to come back from an injury and came out to support Vonn in her final race at Cortina, meant a lot to her. “It’s more than ski racing. It’s a respect for each other, sportsmanship, and what skiing is all about. And I’m lucky that I’m able to experience all of that. I feel really thankful that I’ve been able to do it as long as I have.”
Shiffrin acknowledged that it must have been a week full of emotions at a place that was so special to Vonn - a place Vonn has had so much career success. “For Lindsey, I can imagine it’s really emotional,” noted Shiffrin. “She had so many amazing races here...for it to be the last time she’s in Cortina racing, I imagine she must be going through so many memories and it’s a reflection of her entire career. The fans are coming out here to cheer for her - they don’t care if she wins, they just want to see her again. So, in that way, it’s also happy memories.”
With the victory, Shiffrin extended her overall World Cup lead to 596 points over Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who did not race Sunday. Shiffrin also leads the World Cup super-G, giant slalom, and slalom standings. Shiffrin is now tied with legendary Austrian skier Hermann Maier with 54 victories, sitting sixth place all-time among men and women. She needs just two more victories in order to equal Vreni Schneider (55) in fifth place.
Up next, the women’s World Cup tour moves on to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany for downhill and super-G races Jan. 24-25.
“I’m planning to take a little time off and get some training,” Shiffrin said. “It will be the first time this season that I’ve had a chance to really take a break. My team as well. My coaches have been going non-stop since the beginning, so we’re going to take a short break, get back on the skis, get back on the slalom skis, get ready for Maribor (Slovenia, Feb. 1-2) and the World Championships.”
As for Vonn, her comeback to the World Cup circuit this weekend in Cortina, where she has won 12 races (six downhill and six super-G) over her 18-year career, hasn’t been what she expected, despite 15th and ninth-place results in Friday and Saturday’s downhills, respectively.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to Garmisch,” Vonn said. “I’m not sure...I’m not sure if I can keep going. I have to really think things through the next few days and make some hard decisions.”
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Preliminary schedule, subject to change
*Same-day delayed broadcast
Sunday, Jan. 20
8:00 p.m. - Women’s downhill - Cortina d’Ampezzo, ITA - NBCSN**
9:00 p.m. - Women’s super-G - Cortina d’Ampezzo, ITA - NBCSN*
Friday, Jan. 25
5:30 a.m. - Men’s super-G - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBC Sports Gold
Saturday, Jan. 26
4:00 a.m. - Women’s downhill - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GER - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. - Men’s downhill - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. - Women’s downhill - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GER - NBCSN*
Sunday, Jan. 27
4:30 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 1 - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. - Women’s super-G - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GER - Olympic Channel-TV, OlympicChannel.com & NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. - Men’s slalom run 2 - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBC Sports Gold
9:00 p.m. - Women’s Super-G - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GER - NBCSN*
Monday, Jan. 28
4:00 p.m. - Men’s downhill and super-G - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBCSN**
Tuesday, Jan. 29
11:00 p.m. - Men’s slalom - Kitzbuehel, AUT - NBCSN**
All streams are available via desktop (NBCSports.com/Live, NBCSports.com/Gold andOlympicChannel.com) as well as mobile, tablet and connected television platforms. The NBC Sports app, NBC Sports Gold app and Olympic Channel app are available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. Exclusive commercial-free coverage will be available for subscribers of the NBC Sports Gold Pass.