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Another two races, another two podiums for the impressive Mikaela Shiffrin, who showed her versatility in St. Moritz, Switzerland this weekend, taking third place in both Saturday and Sunday’s super-G races.
While tech event-specialist Shiffrin has become a formidable competitor in speed over the last six years, it had been nearly two years since she stepped on a FIS World Cup super-G podium. Even without much time to train on her speed skis so far this season, she came out swinging in tough conditions on Saturday—including flat light and fresh snow, which meant racers struggled to make out the course’s tricky, undulating terrain. But that played into Shiffrin’s favor, who excels in tactical technical skiing, and she was able to keep her turns clean to propel her to third place.
Watch: Mikaela Shiffrin clinches first super-G podium of the 2021-’22 season
“This track has so much terrain—it’s a little like every turn has a roll or compression that really throws you around,” Shiffrin told U.S. Ski & Snowboard following the race. “I could see that from the start and I decided to try to ski a good, solid run and not go too crazy trying to be too aerodynamic when most of the girls were struggling to make clean turns. I was just trying to make as clean of turns as I could.”
When Shiffrin said she didn’t have much super-G training, she wasn’t kidding. “I would say this was my sixth run of super-G in six months,” said Shiffrin. “I didn’t really trust myself enough to be the most aggressive on this hill… I have the potential to be competitive, but today is just 100% more practice than what I had yesterday. It was a good run, actually. Quite good.”
The race was won by the 2021 World Championship super-G winner Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland. Sofia Goggia of Italy, who swept all three of the speed events at the Lake Louise World Cup the week prior, was second by .18 seconds. Reigning U.S. downhill queen Breezy Johnson had her third-best super-G result in her career, taking 12th place.
Six other American women started in Saturday’s event, including AJ Hurt (34th), Tricia Mangan (36th), Jackie Wiles (37th) and Nina O’Brien (43rd), Isabella Wright, and Kelly Cashman, though the latter two failed to finish the difficult course.
St. Moritz Super-G #2, Dec. 12
The clouds parted and the sun shone on Sunday for the second super-G of the weekend, but high winds picked up and caused race officials to shorten the track by moving it to the reserve start. Still, the gusting winds wreaked havoc on a few of the women’s runs. Shiffrin described the wind as unpredictable. “You get these pushes from behind and you speed up like crazy and it’s a little unexpected,” she said. “I just tried to push my line and trust it and make good turns and stand strong on my skis.”
Shiffrin skied a fast and aggressive line to her second podium in as many days, snagging another third place. Ahead of her, the Italian team swept first and second, with 2020 overall World Cup winner Federica Brignone capturing the victory and Elena Curtoni coming in second. Young Alice Robinson of New Zealand, who has been able to beat Shiffrin in a few giant slaloms over the last three seasons and is mentored by Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn, was fourth.
Watch: Shiffrin battles gusting winds to nab her second super-G podium in St. Moritz
Italy’s Sofia Goggia missed the podium in a speed event for the first time in the 2021-22 season. She had a solid run that looked good enough to ultimately land her just off the podium in fifth, but was then unexpectedly beaten by Ramona Siebenhofer of Austria, wearing bib 31. Goggia was sixth.
Notably missing from the podium was hometown hero Gut-Behrami, who was well on her way to taking another win, but crashed hard through two layers of fencing in a difficult compression. The Swiss crowd was stunned and silenced, but Gut-Behrami was able to ski down on her own accord to the finish.
Breezy Johnson scored World Cup points for the second time in the weekend, taking 24th. Rounding out the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, Jackie Wiles finished 39th, Nina O’Brien 40th and Tricia Mangan 43rd. AJ Hurt, Isabella Wright and Keely Cashman did not finish the course.
While Shiffrin is known as a strong technical skier, this was not her first go-around on a World Cup speed podium. She has finished in the top three in downhill races five times and in super-G seven times. And St. Moritz has been a standout spot for her, with four of those seven super-G podiums coming at the Swiss venue.
The races in St. Moritz also brought Shiffrin’s total of World Cup podiums to 112, achieved throughout her 201 World Cup starts. Do the math, and you’re realize that Shiffrin chances of landing on the podium in any race she starts is hovering at an extraordinary 56-percent chance. She also continued to build on her overall lead of the World Cup, bringing her to 525 points ahead of Sofia Goggia’s 435 points. Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who did not race in St. Moritz and is focusing solely on tech events this season, is in third with 340 points.
The World Cup next heads to Val d’Isere, France for a downhill and super-G on December 18-19, while the tech-focused women, including Shiffrin, will train for two giant slalom races in Courchevel, France taking place December 21-22.