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Countdown to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Silver for Shiffrin in World Championships Giant Slalom; O’Brien 10th in Career-Best World Champs Finish

By Courtney Harkins
February, 18 2021

Mikaela Shiffrin snagged the silver medal in the 2021 FIS World Ski Championships giant slalom—her third medal of the World Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, and the 10th World Championships medal in her career. Nina O’Brien finished 10th.

It was a thrilling race, with the stateside U.S. fans waking up to see Shiffrin leading after the first run and fellow Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team teammate O’Brien just .02 seconds behind her in second place. Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland was in third, only .09 seconds off the lead.

The two women hugged and screamed after O’Brien’s fast first run, with Shiffrin telling reporters that this was how O’Brien usually trained—and that she’s always been one to keep an eye on in races. Visions of Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves going 1-2 in the 2005 World Champs danced through U.S. ski racing fans’ heads and Burke Mountain Academy students gathered around screens at school to watch their two famous alumna duke it out for the medals.

Running 29th in the second run, O’Brien attacked out of the gate and built on her time, continuing to show green at each split, until she made a small mistake just a couple gates from the finish and lost all of her speed. She ended up in 10th place—still the best giant slalom finish in her career.

“I didn’t quite bring it across the line on the second run, but I’m really happy,” said O’Brien. “I’m glad I went for it. I was definitely pushing the whole way down and I made some good turns. It’s actually still my best GS finish ever—a good day! It feels good to see that my speed stacks up against those girls, so that’s cool—something to hold on to.”

Then it was Shiffrin’s turn, who hammered down the turny second run, but finished just .02 seconds behind Gut-Behrami, who won her second medal of the World Championships. However, Shiffrin wasn’t disappointed in her performance, which brought her medal total to three at the 2021 World Championships—one of each color.

“It’s always like, what could I have done that was two-hundredths faster?” she said. “I’m actually pretty excited. The last two GS races, I was losing a lot more time the second run…I just kept thinking, keep pushing! Keeping a silver and being so close and hanging on to a medal when there’s a really big competition for the podium together with so many girls within three tenths or five-tenths of a second, it was really not guaranteed, so that’s pretty cool.”

Shiffrin wasn’t exaggerating about how close the race was: It was the closest World Championships victory in history. Just .09 seconds separated the medals, with Katharina Liensberger of Austria taking third place with the fastest second run—even after going down on her hip near the finish.

This brings Shiffrin’s medal total to 10 during her World Championships career, placing her third on the all-time list of World Champs medal winners of the modern era, and was her third time medaling in giant slalom. She claimed silver in 2017 and bronze in 2019.

AJ Hurt and Paula Moltzan also started for the Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team in the giant slalom. Neither finished first run and are OK.

Next, the men race giant slalom on Friday before slalom wraps up the World Championships over the weekend. “I’m looking forward to it,” said Shiffrin on defending her slalom title. “Just gotta get a little bit of recovery before that and then go for it one more time at this World Champs.”

RESULTS
Women’s World Championship giant slalom

HOW TO WATCH 
All times EST

Thursday, Feb 18
4:30 p.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Giant Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN

Friday, Feb. 19
4:00 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men's Giant Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
6:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men's Giant Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
7:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men's Giant Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN

Saturday, Feb. 20
4:00 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast Olympic Channel
7:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast Olympic Channel
5:00 p.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN

Sunday, Feb. 21
4:00 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men' Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast Olympic Channel
6:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men's Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
7:30 a.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Men's Slalom - LIVE, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBCSN
12:00 p.m. FIS World Alpine Championships Women's Slalom - same-day broadcast, Cortina d'Ampezzo, ITA, Broadcast NBC

 

O'Brien Run 1 GS