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It was an exciting and emotional weekend of racing for the women of the World Cup circuit. Originally scheduled to race in back to back giant slaloms in Courchevel, France, racers first had to contend with bad visibility and a rough course on Saturday, Dec. 12, for the first GS of the weekend, then had to wait until Monday, Dec. 14 to start in a postponed second GS.
In Saturday’s GS, Italian Marta Bassino persevered to claim her second consecutive GS victory of the season. In Monday’s GS, Mikaela Shiffrin made a phenomenal and emotional comeback to nab her first World Cup win in almost a year. Here are the highlights from the women’s World Cup races in Courchevel.
Saturday: Bassino Wins First Courchevel GS, Shiffrin Finishes Fourth
Saturday’s course conditions in Courchevel were not ideal for racing, yet Italian Marta Bassino managed to ski through low visibility and fresh snow on the track to claim her second consecutive giant slalom win of the season. Though she sat in second place behind Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova after the first run, Bassino posted the fastest second run to finish first overall.
Sweden’s Sara Hector, a longtime staple on the women’s World Cup circuit, skied a phenomenal second run and moved up from fourth to second overall to claim her first World Cup podium since 2014. Vhlova, unable to replicate her fast first run and retain her lead, rounded out the podium in third.
Mikaela Shiffrin, starting in her first World Cup GS race in nearly a year, battled the bumpy course in the first run to finish third, .65 seconds behind Vlhova’s first run time and .16 seconds behind Bassino. But a few mistakes in the second run cost her valuable time and Shiffrin crossed the finish line in fourth overall.
Despite just missing the podium, a fourth-place finish is more than Shiffrin allowed herself to hope for heading into her first giant slalom race in almost a year.
“All in all, it was a pretty incredible day,” she told U.S. Ski and Snowboard after the race. “I felt like I could do some good skiing and the rest of it is just stuff I still need to pick up on—learn how to find the cleaner line and push through the bumps like the way some of these girls are doing. I know I can do it and it’s just a matter of getting to that point again.”
American Nina O’Brien also had cause to celebrate after finishing 19th to snag her second consecutive top-20 GS result this season, adding more points to her World Cup point total.
View the full results of the Dec. 12 Courchevel giant slalom here.
Monday: Shiffrin Claims First GS Victory since 2019
After a narrow podium miss on Saturday and a race postponement on Sunday, Mikaela Shiffrin came out of the start gate with guns blazing in Monday’s second Courchevel giant slalom. Clear skies, sunshine, and a hard and fast race surface made for ideal conditions for Shiffrin to push her skiing to the limit—and that’s exactly what she did.
The exceptionally tight course almost got the better of Shiffrin in the middle of her first run and towards the end of her second run, but she fought ferociously to get her line back on track in both cases. She crossed the finish line with the fastest overall time to claim her first World Cup victory in almost a year—and her first since her father’s death.
Overcome with emotion in the finish area, Shiffrin struggled to put her feelings about this win into words.
“It’s pretty hard to explain. 95% of me thought I couldn’t do [this]. But a small part of me showed up at the right time. It’s crazy to be back here,” she said from the leader’s chair after the race. “It’s a lot of energy to focus like that and to put the toughness and strength in your skiing … I used to do it all the time—but I’m at a different place and didn’t know if I could do it again.”
Monday’s rescheduled giant slalom proved exceptionally exciting beyond Shiffrin’s phenomenal performance. The tricky course did its best to chew up and spit out a number of racers, including top contenders Marta Bassino, Petra Vlhova, New Zealand’s Alice Robinson, and Norway’s Mina Fuerst Holtmann, who were all unable to make quick enough turns in the bottom half of the course and either crashed or missed a gate. For Bassino, who sat in second place just .07 seconds behind Shiffrin after the first run, the DNF was a particularly bitter pill to swallow. Bassino’s crash also paved the way for France’s Tessa Worley to make up for a significant mistake in her first run to claim third overall after a strong second run.
The women who did manage to finish Monday’s course exhibited feats of athleticism and exceptional skiing. Italian Federica Brignone, the 2020 Overall World Cup and Giant Slalom Champion, managed to finish second overall despite a hip check in the second run that almost had her sliding out of the course.
And for the first time in her career, American AJ Hurt managed to qualify for a second run and proceeded to finish 18th overall to score career-first World Cup points.
See the full results from the Dec. 14 women’s Courchevel giant slalom here.
Shiffrin’s win in the second Courchevel giant slalom marks her 67th World Cup victory, putting her on par with Austrian great Marcel Hirscher and third behind Lindsey Vonn and Ingemar Stenmark on the World Cup victory tally.
This win also moves Shiffrin up to second place in the women’s overall World Cup standings with 275 points, behind Vlhova who leads with 420. Shiffrin now ranks third in the GS standings, behind Bassino in second, and Brignone, who now leads in the discipline.
From Courchevel, the women’s World Cup travels to Val d’Isere, France, for the first speed events of the season after the opening downhill and super-G races scheduled for St. Moritz Dec. 5-6 were canceled due to weather. Shiffrin, who has decided to focus on the technical events of the World Cup circuit this season, is not expected to start in Val d’Isere.