Shiffrin stands alone atop the GS podium
The replacement race from the cancelled GS in Courchevel was held in Semmering on Tuesday to the delight of the Austrian crowd in attendance. An exciting opening run had athletes continuing to come down with the lead, one besting the next even outside the top seed.
Mikaela Shiffrin didn’t think bib 15 would be a great start number in the morning, but it didn’t matter for her as she skied to a 0.27-second lead after the first run. Manuela Moelgg led the ever-solid Italian team in second, and her teammate Marta Bassino was third at 0.49 seconds off the lead. Even Taina Barioz got into the mix, sitting fifth from bib 20.
“It was so much fun, and I felt relaxed and really clean. It was nice to ski that,” Shiffrin said between runs. “I came into this race thinking gosh, I have to be excited to race – not dread it and have to come up with a plan. Just go and see what happens, and it felt good.”
The firm surface which froze solid overnight held up through the second run as light snowfall fell from the sky. Lara Gut, who sat an uncharacteristic 17th after encountering trouble on the first run, charged hard in the second to hold the leader box through 11 challengers. Tessa Worley also had her turn in the hot seat, but she was finally pushed to second place with a blazing second run by Shiffrin.
"It was a tough race: icy, bumpy, everything I like. Mikaela did a great two runs. I did a bad top section on the first, so I'm really happy with second place and with my second run attacking from top to bottom," said Worley. "I love it. I love having two chances like this, and I'm going to make the best of it," she added, looking ahead to Wednesday's race.
Gut ultimately finished fourth and Bassino fifth, as Moelgg rounded out the podium in third for her first appearance in the top 3 since 2011.
"I [took] a lot of time to come back, but I'm here. I'm not the youngest – but not a bad one," said Moelgg, who skied with Shiffrin in Italy over the short Christmas break. "Yeah, she was with me at home and we had a nice time and good training."
For Shiffrin, it marked her second career victory in GS but the first time alone with the win. She previously tied Anna Veith in the Sölden opener in 2014.
"It was a fight, but it's easier to ski like that. It was so simple. So it was easier but I fought more, which was nice," concluded Shiffrin.
Veith made her return to competition in Semmering after a 14-month hiatus due to a knee injury. She did not qualify for a second run, but she spent time in the finish area conducting interviews with the media.
Maria Pietilae-Holmner, who sat fourth after first run, had an aggressive crash near the finish line but was able to walk off the slope through the finish area.
The ladies will race a second GS at Semmering on Wednesday with start times at 10:30/13:30 CET.
Complete results from today’s race are available here.