Shiffrin makes spectacular comeback
Crans-Montana, Switzerland – American Mikaela Shiffrin made a sensational comeback to the World Cup circuit by winning the 8th slalom of the season, after a two-month break due to a knee injury.
In the lead after the first run, the Olympic and world slalom champion powered down the technical course on challenging snow conditions. She posted an aggregate time of 1:29.20 to beat France's Nastasia Noens by 0.45 second. Canadian Marie-Michelle Gagnon, who was 10th after the first run, claimed third place 0.50 off the pace.
Shiffrin was back on skis only two weeks ago and admitted she was nervous to be back and that she wasn't sure if her skiing was already at the same level as before.
“A good comeback day,” Shiffrin said. “That was a pretty incredible race and it’s weird. I’m kind of glad it’s over, but I also enjoyed skiing that last run. It was really rough and it was a challenge every single gate, and I kept thinking like ‘Am I in the course? Did I miss a gate? Am I out of the course yet?’ I finally came through the finish rethinking and like ‘No, I made every gate. Wow, that’s amazing,’ because it was just bumpy and a wild ride, and a good fight, and kind of the way it should be probably.”
It was Shiffrin's 18th World cup victory in her career and the third this season in slalom after winning both races in Aspen.
Sixth after a solid opening run, Nastasia Noens confirmed her fine form this season and dealt with the spring-like conditions the best way to finally earn her career third podium.
“Yes, finally, I am on the podium,” said a smiling Noens. “In Flachau it was so close (4th). I’m really happy. It was a difficult race but I like these soft conditions. So, yes, it was a great fight.”
Gagnon seemed to be regenerated by a 10-day stay back home in Canada and raced to her third career World Cup podium.
“I’ve been adapting to different things,” Gagnon said. “I was a bit inconsistent this season, but now I went home. I had a break. I recharged my batteries. I got to see my family and I’m just having fun and that’s the thing, you just gotta have fun because that’s when my best skiing comes out.”
In the slalom standings, Sweden's Frida Hansdotter, who finished 6th (+0.73), has 545 points and leads Veronika Velez Zuzulova, who had to be content with 10th on the day (+1.32), by 99 points. There are three more slalom races remaining.
The World Cup tour will move to La Thuile (ITA) for another action-packed week with two trainings, two downhill races and one super-G.
For complete results, click here.