A monster storm may have deposited up to 79 inches of fresh snow across the Alps last week, but the World Cup slope at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia was transformed into an ice rink for the women’s double-header giant slalom on Jan. 16 and Jan. 17. It was Italian Marta Bassino who shined in these conditions, claiming back-to-back victories on Saturday and Sunday. Mikaela Shiffrin, meanwhile, struggled to put down two solid runs in each race and was forced to settle for sixth place in both GS events. Here are the highlights from the women’s World Cup giant slaloms in Kranjska Gora.
Jan. 16 Women’s Giant Slalom: Bassino Claims Third GS Victory this Season; Michelle Gisin Scores Career-First GS Podium
World Cup racers tend to prefer icy surface conditions because it makes for a fast, predictable track that favors high edge angles. But thus far, racers have had to contend with warm and soft snow more often than not this season due to the mild winter Europe has been experiencing. Saturday’s extremely icy GS course in Kranjska Gora, however, once again rewarded skiers who let their edges do the work and attacked the fall line.
It was Italy’s Marta Bassino, known for her aggressive skiing, who excelled on the icy track in Saturday’s GS. Starting with bib number six, she skied the fastest first run, finishing 0.27 seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin and 0.51 seconds faster than Petra Vlhova of Slovakia. Mikaela Shiffrin skied a clean first run to land in fourth, just 0.03 seconds off Vlhova’s time and 0.54 seconds off Gisin’s leading time.
Watch: Marta Bassino’s Winning GS Run
Bassino was able to extend her lead and clinch the win after an exceptional second run. Only Tessa Worley of France skied faster than Bassino in the second run, which catapulted Worley from fifth to second place overall, 0.80 seconds behind Bassino’s combined time. Gisin followed her strong first run with a fast second run to finish third overall and claim the first GS podium of her World Cup career. Thanks to this GS podium, Gisin became only the second female Swiss racer to podium in every World Cup discipline.
Video: Michelle Gisin’s 3rd Place GS Runs
Shiffrin, who often skis more conservatively in the first run only to turn on the after-burners in the second, didn’t manage to find the level of aggression she needed in the second run and ultimately settled into sixth place overall, behind Federica Brignone of Italy and Vlhova, who was bumped from third to fourth by Worley’s strong performance.
Though not where she would have liked to be, especially after winning the last women’s GS race in Courchevel, France, Shiffrin was happy to celebrate teammate Nina O’Brien’s career-best 13th place finish on Saturday.
“It was definitely very challenging—the surface especially,” said O’Brien after the race. “It was super icy … Second run was a total rodeo mess, but I’m glad I hung on and made it.”
Jan. 17 Women’s Giant Slalom: Shiffrin Loses First Run Lead; Bassino Extends GS Dominance
Shiffrin, starting with bib number 1 in Sunday’s GS, skied as if she was looking for redemption and claimed the leader’s chair right out of the gate. Bassino, propelled by her winning momentum, finished 0.30 seconds behind Shiffrin in the first run. Gisin again found herself in third, 0.44 seconds off Shiffrin’s time.
Sunday’s GS resulted in tighter margins between the top four racers than the previous day’s race, and the racers stood a lot to lose or a lot to gain in the second run. That pressure seemed to have fueled Bassino, leading the Italian to ski the fastest second run of the day and claim her second victory of the weekend by 0.66 seconds.
Shiffrin, on the other hand, struggled to follow up her first run performance with an equally strong second run. She lost significant time in the lower half of the course and crossed the finish line in sixth place for the second day in a row. Despite the disappointing result after a strong first run, Shiffrin came away from Sunday’s race feeling positive about her skiing.
“Today I just wanted to ski,” Shiffrin told U.S. Ski and Snowboard after the race. “I changed my mindset and my attitude coming into today and just wanted the feeling of a few good turns again. I felt that first run today and that’s something positive to take away from the weekend.”
Gisin proved once again that she is a force to be reckoned with by finishing in second place and grabbing her second podium of the weekend. Slovenia’s Meta Hrovat rounded out the podium in third, 0.73 seconds behind Bassino’s winning time.
American Nina O’Brien also carried her Saturday momentum into Sunday’s race to again finish 13th.
After her back-to-back victories in Kranjska Gora, Bassino now has a commanding lead in the women’s GS standings with 400 points. Gisin ranks second with 272 points, while Italy’s Federica Brignone falls from first to third with 250 points. Shiffrin drops to fifth place with 230 points.
Vlhova still leads in the overall standings with 775 points, but thanks to her performance in Slovenia, Gisin is inching closer with 715 points. Bassino also moves up to third overall with 623 points.
From Slovenia, the women’s World Cup circuit moves to Crans Montana, Switzerland for the next speed events of the circuit on Jan. 22-24.