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Shiffrin wins Squaw Valley GS, increasing overall World Cup lead to 278 points

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March 10, 2017, 4:59 pm
shiffrin celebration

Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates her Audi FIS Ski World Cup giant slalom victory Friday at Squaw Valley, California (Getty Images/Agence Zoon/Alexis Boichard)

Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin on Friday won her 10th World Cup race of the season — a giant slalom in Squaw Valley, Calif. — and now has as many career World Cup victories as the legendary Janica Kostelic.

Shiffrin picked up her 30th career win by the slimmest of margins in Squaw (.07 seconds over Federica Brignone), tying Kostelic for 10th on the all-time victory list. But Shiffrin is just 21 years old (22 on Monday), and by comparison, Vail’s Lindsey Vonn didn’t win her 30th race until she was 25.

Vonn, of course, sits atop the all-time victory list for women with 77 career wins but did not race in Friday’s GS. With two more wins this season, Shiffrin can tie Vonn for the most wins by an American in a single season with 12 — just two shy of the overall record of 14 held by Vreni Schneider.

Shiffrin is on track now to become the youngest overall World Cup champion since Kostelic won her first title of three overall titles in 2001. Shiffrin has never won the overall, but she has a good shot at becoming the second Vail Valley ski racer to nab the coveted globe, following in the footsteps of Vonn, who has pulled off the overall victory four times.

Shiffrin increased her overall lead over her nearest challenger, Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia, to 278 points with just five races left on the schedule, including Shiffrin’s signature slalom event at Squaw on Saturday and the World Cup Finals slalom next week in Aspen. Stuhec crashed in the first run of GS and won’t race in Sunday’s slalom.

Shiffrin held a .20 second lead after the first run of GS as the World Cup returned to Squaw Valley for the first time since 1969, when Billy Kidd came away with a win. Squaw also hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.

But Shiffrin previously won a national GS title on the Squaw Valley course and used that experience to her advantage on Friday.

Here’s a press release from the U.S. Ski Team on Shiffrin’s victory

SQUAW VALLEY, CA – (March 10, 2017) – Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) provided thousands of ski racing fans lining the Red Dog course with a thrilling come-from-behind victory, and moved one step closer to the overall World Cup title after winning Friday’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup giant slalom.

“It’s awesome,” Shiffrin said. “The people in California are so nice. It’s great to win in front of my own home country crowd.”

Friday’s victory was Shiffrin’s fourth career World Cup giant slalom win, and 30th career World Cup victory. Italy’s Federica Brignone finished second, followed by World Cup giant slalom leader Tessa Worley of France in third.

Shiffrin won the first run by 0.20 over Worley on a warm, spring-like, California day. In the second run though, Brignone almost spoiled the American homecoming for Shiffrin, as she put down an amazing run to move atop the leaderboard. Worley, who held a 0.79-second advantage over Brignone, failed to knock the Italian out of the lead.

So, it was up to Shiffrin, the final racer down to the mountain. She held a massive 1.14-second advantage at the first split over Brignone, then 0.72 at the second interval. By the time she hit the third interval split though, Shiffrin was trailing by 0.03 seconds. But in classic Shiffrin style, she shifted into overdrive and sneaked across the line to take the victory by just 0.07-seconds.

“I have a lot better skiing in me, but I definitely put some good turns out there, and I’m proud of that,” Shiffrin said. “Just to win the second to last GS of the season is a better position than I’ve ever been in at this point, so I’m really excited with today.”

Shiffrin though, was quick to share the triumph of her victory with the hardworking course crew at Squaw Valley, which have managed to provide a world-class venue after receiving a record 623 inches of snow so far this season.

“They have done a really, really good job here just combating all the snow they have had all winter,” Shiffrin said. “And then even just last week, putting water in it and making it compact again. I know these guys have been working tirelessly in order to provide a really good World Cup (course) for us. They did it! It’s awesome! It’s warm, and it’s not the easiest conditions to prepare for, or ski, but they did a great job!”

With Friday’s victory, Shiffrin built upon her overall World Cup lead over Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, who crashed and did not finish the first run. Shiffrin leads with 1,423 points. Stuhec has 1,145, followed by Italy’s Sofia Goggia with 1,045. More importantly though, Friday’s win put her in contention for the overall World Cup giant slalom title with one race remain next week in Aspen. Worley leads the GS standings with 640 points. Shiffrin is second with 560.

“I’m really excited to have 100 points after this race,” Shiffrin said. “Going into tomorrow, now I have to refocus, it’s a little bit of an adrenalin rush. I need to sort of calm down and refocus for slalom day tomorrow.

“I can’t wait to go to Aspen; even having a 270-something-point lead going into the last, basically, four races of the season – that’s big,” she continued. “But at the same time, I don’t feel like I’ve done anything yet, so I don’t want to take it for granted.”

Indeed noting is for granted, but Shiffrin can wrap up the World Cup slalom title Saturday with a top-three finish as Slovenia’s Veronika Zuzulova Velez is currently second, trailing by 145 points. Saturday’s race will be live in NBCsports.com/live with the first run at 1 p.m. EST, and the second run at 4 p.m. EST.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mikaela Shiffrin won her 30th career Audi FIS Ski World Cup race Friday, winning the giant slalom at Squaw Valley.
  • Italy’s Federica Brignone finished second, followed by World Cup giant slalom leader Tessa Worley of France in third.
  • Megan McJames (Park City, UT) finished 22nd; Resi Stiegler (Jackson, WY) did not qualify for the second run.
  • An estimated crowd of 8,000 were on hand to watch Friday’s giant slalom.
  • Road to Aspen: Shiffrin leads the overall World Cup standings with 1,423 points. Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec is second with 1,145, followed by Italy’s Sofia Goggia with 1,045. In the overall giant slalom World Cup standings, Tessa Worley of France leads with 640 points. Shiffrin is second with 560.

QUOTES
Mikaela Shiffrin
Just to win the second to last GS of the season is a better position than I’ve ever been in at this point. I’m really excited with today. I have a lot better skiing in me, but I definitely put some good turns out there, and I’m proud of that.

It’s awesome. The people in California are so nice. It’s great to win in front of my own home country crowd.

I made a few mistakes, but noting was ginormous and I was able to recover from it; and those mistakes were just because I was attacking. It’s so much better for me to add that little bit of risk, because I know I can handle it.

[On heading to the Aspen as the World Cup leader]
I’m really excited to have 100 points after this race. Going into tomorrow, now I have to refocus, it’s a little bit of an adrenalin rush. I need to sort of calm down and refocus for slalom day tomorrow. I can’t wait to go to Aspen; even having a 270-something-point lead going into the last, basically, four races of the season – that’s big. But at the same time, I don’t feel like I’ve done anything yet, so I don’t want to take it for granted.

[On the course crew]
They have done a really, really good job here just combating all the snow they have had all winter. And then even just last week, putting water in it and making it compact again. I know these guys have been working tirelessly in order to provide a really good World Cup (course) for us. They did it. It’s awesome. It’s warm and it’s not the easiest conditions to prepare for, or ski, but they did a great job!

 

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