Mikaela Shiffrin skied to another World Cup victory in Sunday’s Killington’s World Cup slalom event—her third consecutive win in this event, and her 45th World Cup victory overall. Despite less than ideal conditions—a mix of heavy mist, fog and rain which made for soft snow and low visibility on the course—Shiffrin was able to hold on to the .29 second lead she secured in Run 1 and almost double that margin in Run 2 to post the fastest overall time, .57 seconds ahead of Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, and an incredible 1.08 seconds ahead of Olympic Slalom Champion Frida Hansdotter.
While Shiffrin has proven time and time again that she’s almost superhuman when it comes to the slalom event, Sunday’s course conditions proved a test of will and skill even for Shiffrin. “I knew it was going to be a fight because it was tough conditions today with pretty sloppy snow,” Shiffrin said. “But I figured, ‘well, everybody would have to fight, so if I just fight harder, we’ll see what happens. There were definitely a few points on the course where I wasn’t sure if I was still on the course. But I just kept my skis moving until I found myself in the finish.”
And she was right. The snow conditions and poor visibility bested many of the racers, with 16 competitors unable to finish the course—either because they skied off course, crashed, or missed a gate. American Resi Stiegler of Jackson Hole, Wyo. was among them.
But two other American women were able to finish within the top 30 racers after Run 1 to qualify for the second run: Nina O’Brien (Denver, Colo.) and East Coast local Paula Moltzan (Burlington, Vt.). And against all odds, both O’Brien and Moltzan went on to finish Run 2 in the top 30—Moltzan in 17th and O’Brien in 23rd—to secure World Cup points.
O’Brien, currently on the U.S.’ B Team, made her debut on the World Cup circuit in Killington in 2016, but had yet to finish high enough in the rankings to secure World Cup points. The points she won in Sunday’s Killington slalom were her first.
“It feels so good to finally make it in there, to be a part of the second run,” O’Brien said. “I’ve had a lot of tries, some pretty close calls, some not as close. But it feels like a breakthrough today.”
Moltzan, not officially a member of the U.S. Ski Team but a member of the U.S. Alpine World Cup Squad, joined the World Cup circuit in 2015 and was the first American woman to win a slalom gold at Junior Worlds in Norway.
Needless to say, the Killington World Cup was a big success for the U.S. Ski Team, proving to the world that Shiffrin is as strong as ever, and perhaps more importantly, that there is serious talent in the U.S. pipeline.
“We have some really good, strong racers, and it’s really cool to have this kind of showing of Americans in the second run and on the final board,” Shiffrin said.
From Killington, the women’s World Cup moves on to Lake Louise, where Shiffrin and her teammates will start in their first downhill and Super G events of the season on Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Shiffrin snagged her first World Cup downhill victory at Lake Louise last season and plans to race in all three events. As for the other ladies on the U.S. Ski Team—be sure to watch talented speed skiers Laurenne Ross , A.J. Hurt and Alice Merryweather.