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Starting 21st, Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards charged the new Eclipse downhill course at Courchevel, France on Wednesday for the critical 100-point victory as she fights to win her American record-tying fourth overall World Cup crystal globe.
Shiffrin wound up first with a blistering one-minute, 27-second run. Her closest pursuer in the overall chase, defending overall champion Petra Vlhova, finished 16th — a full .78 seconds back and out of the points in the World Cup Finals format (only the top 15 score points).
Christine Scheyer of Austria and Joana Haehlen of Switzerland tied for second, just .10 seconds behind Shiffrin, who padded her lead to 156 points over Vlhova headed into Thursday’s super-G at the World Cup Finals.
Shiffrin, who now leads the overall chase 1,345 points to 1,189 for Vlhova with three races left, is trying to tie former Vail resident Lindsey Vonn for the American record of four overall World Cup titles — the coveted big globe for season-long consistency.
The victory was the 74th of Shiffrin’s career — eight behind Vonn’s women’s record of 82 — and just her third World Cup win in downhill. The women now compete in super-G on Thursday, followed by slalom on Saturday and giant slalom on Sunday to finish out the season.
Vlhova has been more consistent than Shiffrin in the tech events this season, particularly slalom, winning the Olympic gold medal in the event at last month’s Olympics in Beijing, where Shiffrin surprisingly came away with no medals. However, Shiffrin — the 2014 Olympic gold medalist in slalom and 2018 gold medalist in GS — does have World Cup wins in both disciplines this season.
If Shiffrin can somehow increase her overall lead to more than 200 points by finishing with 45 or more than Vlhova in Thursday’s super-G, she would lock up the overall globe.
Shiffrin’s boyfriend, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway, narrowly edged Olympic downhill champion Beat Feuz of Switzerland to win the season-long downhill title on Wednesday. Kilde finished fourth, just behind Feuz in third to keep Feuz from matching the legendary Franz Klammer with five straight downhill globes.
Vincent Kriechmayr won the race, and Marco Odermatt was second, securing his first overall World Cup title by finishing ahead of Kilde, who also has already secured the super-G globe. American Ryan Cochran-Siegle, the silver medalist in the event from Beijing, finished eighth.
Kilde watched Shiffrin’s race and punched the air with both fists and greeted her with a hug and kiss after her win, according to the Associated Press. “Good job! A good day,” Kilde told Shiffrin, according to AP.
The women’s downhill globe went to Italy’s Sofia Goggia, who finished 12th. Goggia’s closest pursuer in the event, Olympic gold medalist Corinne Suter, finished 19th.
Here’s the press release on Shiffrin’s win from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team:
Two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin reminded everyone that she’s not just one of the best technical skiers in the world, with a massive victory in Wednesday’s downhill to open FIS Ski World Cup Finals in Courchevel/Meribel, France.
It was a tight and exciting downhill race at the site of the 2023 World Championships on a new track for everyone, L’Eclipse, at Courchevel. The coveted leaderboard saw a lot of faces, with Czech Republic’s Ester Ledecka setting the pace and hanging on until Swiss Joana Haehlen took over. From there, Austria’s Christine Scheyer came down tied with Haehlen. Though she was running bib 21 with only two downhill World Cups under her belt this season—in which she placed 26th and 38th, at Lake Louise, Canada—Shiffrin had confidence from her fast downhill training runs and took that confidence into race day. Shiffrin came down in first by .10 seconds, to push Haehlen and Scheyer into second. Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin finished fourth, a mere .14 off Shiffrin’s pace.
The victory is Shiffrin’s 74th career victory and third downhill victory. The last time Shiffrin was on top of the downhill podium—or a speed podium of any kind—was on January 24th, 2020, in Bankso, Bulgaria. Though she is the only athlete in history to win in all six World Cup disciplines, Shiffrin still doesn’t consider herself a seasoned speed skier…yet her natural gift for speed is undeniable.
“I don’t really feel like I’m supposed to be winning downhills,” she reflected following her victory. She continued, “Actually, I feel like I’m supposed to not be winning downhills, so it worked out amazing today and I think I did a really good job with my coaches and the whole team here, they’re all here and fully committed to helping me learn this track and execute it the best possible way…and giving me exactly what I needed to ski the most confident. Even then, I’m not a downhill skier right now. I have great pieces, but it takes a lot of thought, a lot of work, a lot of effort…some of the things that come naturally to other women are not coming naturally to me. So I have to remind myself of little things that no one else is having to think about.”
With just a handful of downhill training days under her belt this season, Shiffrin was just looking for some points. “For me, I was thinking if I could be top 10 or top five that would be great…but to actually win the race is above my expectations,” she said.
Shiffrin’s boyfriend, Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, put down an inspiring performance for Shiffrin on Wednesday to secure the downhill globe, and he and Shiffrin spent significant time talking about L’Eclipse and their game plan heading into Wednesday. “He’s skiing the course, so obviously he knows how it’s feeling…how the surface feels, and we’re talking about skiing a lot, so it’s really pretty easy for me to understand his points,” Shiffrin shared. “From the first training, he said, ‘be smart in these key sections and then just good turns.’ It was just simple and clear. And then I felt very comfortable with where I was going on the track all of the time, so then I felt like I could really push and ski with good intention and timing. It worked perfectly. I love talking about skiing with Aleks. He’s an amazing skier, so I love to watch him and I love to talk about it with him.”
Shiffrin is happy to put the Olympics at Beijing 2022 in her rearview mirror and move towards the goal to win her fourth overall Crystal Globe. With the victory, Shiffrin walked away with 100 valuable points towards her overall effort. Meanwhile, rival Slovakian Petra Vlhova finished 16th and therefore outside of the points, as the top 15 athletes at World Cup Finals score points. She now has a 156-point lead over Vlhova going into the rest of the series.
In the women’s downhill globe race, Italy’s Sofia Goggia secured the title with her 12th place finish, as Switzerland’s Corinne Suter struggled and finished outside of the points, in 19th place. Goggia finished the season with 504 points to Suter’s 407 points to take home the discipline globe for the second-straight year and third time in her career.
On the men’s side, Olympic silver medalist Ryan Cochran-Siegle led the way for the Americans in eighth place, with Travis Ganong in 10th, and Bryce Bennett finishing 20th. In the downhill season standings, Cochran-Siegle ended up 10th in his comeback season, followed by Ganong in 11th, and Bennett in 12th. This is Cochran-Siegle’s career-best season ranking in downhill.
In the tight race for the men’s downhill globe, Aamodt Kilde snuck past Switzerland’s Beat Feuz with 620 points to Feuz’s 607, spoiling the party and Feuz’s goal to get five-straight downhill globes. Aamodt Kilde also earned the super-G discipline globe this season. With his second-place finish on Wednesday, Swiss Marco Odermatt clinched the overall Crystal Globe over Aamodt Kilde.
Up next for the men and women is super-G on Thursday. Cochran-Siegle, Ganong, and Shiffrin have qualified in super-G and will represent the U.S. Ski Team.
HOW TO WATCH
*All times EDT.
Thursday, March 17, 2022
5:00 a.m. FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Women’s super-G, Courchevel, France, Streaming Peacock
6:30 a.m. FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Men’s super-G, Courchevel, France, Streaming Peacock
Friday, March 18, 2022
7:00 a.m. FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Mixed Team Parallel Slalom, Courchevel, France, Streaming Peacock
Saturday, March 19, 2022
4:00 a.m. FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) – Courchevel, France, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Peacock
5:30 a.m. FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Women’s Slalom (Run 1) – Courchevel, France, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Peacock
7:00 a.m. FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) – Courchevel, France, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Peacock
Sunday, March 20, 2022
4:00 a.m. FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) – Courchevel, France, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Peacock
5:30 a.m. FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Men’s Slalom (Run 1) – Courchevel, France, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Peacock
7:00 a.m. FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) – Courchevel, France, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Peacock
8:30 a.m. FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup, Men’s Slalom (Run 2) – Courchevel, France, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Peacock