Mikaela Shiffrin on top of mountain as World Cup returns to New England
KILLINGTON, Vt. —
After all, Shiffrin had more than a half-second lead in an event she has dominated. The general feeling was that all she had to do was complete the course, and the victory was hers.
She did not disappoint, extending a streak of slalom wins to 10.
Shiffrin returns to Killington’s World Cup event this weekend not only as the defending slalom champion, but also the World Cup overall champion, and she shows few signs of slowing down.
“I’m really, really hoping to, in both the GS [Saturday] and the slalom on Sunday, to show some of my best skiing,” Shiffrin said, adding that the fear of failure fuels her.
“I’m also a little bit worried that I’m not going to do that, and I’m going to taper to the pressure and if that means getting second place, or it means getting third place, or it means getting 10th place, I won’t be very happy with that.”
So just how much has Shiffrin eclipsed the field since the last go-around at Killington? Going a little “inside baseball” helps illustrate.
Shiffrin has won six of the last 10 World Cup slaloms, and in her victories, her average margin of victory is .72 seconds. The overall average margin is .55 seconds.
In two of the last 10 slaloms, Shiffrin was second, beaten by just .24 and .10 seconds.
In the two races she did not place either first or second, the margin of victory was .58 and .24 seconds.
In giant slalom, where she posted three victories and finished second once to accumulate crucial points on her way to becoming the World Cup overall champion, the numbers aren’t quite as impressive. The overall margin of victory in the last 10 giant slaloms, including the season opener in Soelden, Austria, in October, was .49 seconds. Shiffrin’s margin of victory was .33 seconds, and all three wins were by narrow margins.
At Killington this weekend, where giant slalom is scheduled Saturday and slalom on Sunday, the competition should be fierce. As Shiffrin defends in slalom and pursues a GS victory at an event that is important to her because she honed her racing skills in Vermont, she’ll be chased by a determined field that has plenty of incentive: Olympic spots.
Racers like Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany and Tessa Worley of France, who finished 1-2 at the Soelden GS, will be among the many Europeans looking to accumulate top World Cup finishes, which factor into Olympic selection in ski racing’s most competitive nations. Other top contenders include three Italians: Frederica Brignone, Mauela Moelgg, and Sofia Goggia.
In slalom, Petra Vlhova of Slovakia narrowly beat Shiffrin in the first slalom of the season, at Levi, Finland. Wendy Holdener of Switzerland and Frida Hansdotter of Sweden are also top competitors.
The United States entries at Killington include Megan McJames, Resi Stiegler, Tricia Mangan, Nina O’Brien, and A.J. Hurt in giant slalom, and Stiegler, McJames, Lila Lapanja, Paula Moltzan, and Katie Hensien in slalom. Hurt and Hensien will be making their World Cup debuts.
Killington World Cup at a glance
When: Saturday (giant slalom), Sunday (slalom), 10 a.m. (Run 1) and 1 p.m. (Run 2) both days.
TV: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Olympic Channel (Run 2 live) and 3 p.m., NBC (tape); Sunday, 1 p.m., NBC (Run 2 live).
Defending champions: Giant slalom — Tessa Worley, France; Slalom — Mikaela Shiffrin, US.
World Cup leaders: Giant slalom — Viktoria Rebensburg, Germany; Slalom — Petra Vhlova, Slovakia.