Katharina Liensberger closed the FIS World Ski Championships in Cortina as the surprise hero on the women’s side, earning three medals, including today’s gold in the slalom.
The 23-year-old Austrian dominated the competition today, winning by exactly one second over Slovakian slalom ace Petra Vlhova. Liensberger entered the second run with a 0.30 second advantage over Vlhova and somehow managed to more than double that lead before crossing the finish line. An impressive feat considering the very warm temperatures and sun beating down on snow for the entire day.
The gold, brings Liensberger’s tally to two gold and one bronze leaving Cortina.
Liensberger’s gold medal today put an end to one of the most impressive medal streaks in World Championship history, as American Mikaela Shiffrin, who had won the last previous four gold medals in the slalom, was relegated to third place, finishing nearly two seconds behind Liensberger.
But while the four-in-a-row streak came to an end today, Shiffrin’s bronze performance still earned her the most medals of any woman in Cortina with four total, two bronze, one silver and one gold. Every event Shiffrin entered at these World Championships, she earned a medal.
For Vlhova, today’s silver brings her total in Cortina to two silver medals. While that’s nothing to scoff at, many had expected more from the current World Cup overall leader.
The two-second gap between the three medalists shows just how good Liensberger was today as she streaked down the mountain with the fastest time in both runs. No one stood a chance against her.
And now as the World Championships come to a close for the women, all eyes turn back to hunt for the World Cup overall title, which will resume will a speed weekend in Val di Fassa.
Several questions surround the last push of the season. Can Lara Gut maintain her momentum and go for the overall title? Will Vlhova find her second wind? How will Liensberger react from her new-found success? And what tricks does Shiffrin still have up her sleeve? These and many more questions will be answered in the last month of the season. Hold on for a wild ride.