Even after winning the Giant Slalom World Cup Crystal Globe last season—awarded to the best GS racer on the World Cup circuit—Mikaela Shiffrin knew that, perhaps more than in any other event, she would have to fight hard to defend her title this season from a field of talented technical racers. Tuesday’s giant slalom race in Courchevel, France proved her right.
Shiffrin, the leader in GS heading into this event and winner of the last two Courchevel giant slaloms, was favored to win Tuesday’s race, but a lackluster first run proved that the American racing phenom is only human after all. As the first racer out of the gate, Shiffrin skied conservatively in flat light conditions and shied away from taking any risks. Though the run looked fluid, it was apparent when Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg crossed the finish line 0.82 seconds faster that Shiffrin’s first run had not been her best.
In the end, Italy’s Federica Brignone skied the fastest combined runs to take the win, just 0.04 seconds ahead of Norway’s Mina Fuerst Holtmann, who surprised with her career best World Cup result and first GS podium; Wendy Holdener settled in third, 0.44 seconds behind Brignone's time, to also secure her first career World Cup GS podium. Shiffrin was able to improve upon her first run, but ultimately finished 17th, her worst World Cup result since 2017.
See full Courchevel women's GS results here.
“I would like to tell you more about my day but my thoughts are rambling so much that I can’t even begin,” Shiffrin shared on Instagram after the race. “I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m disappointed and I have absolutely no excuses … it happens.”
A number of other favorites faltered in the Courchevel event. Italy’s Marta Bassino, who podiumed in the Killington GS, skied a fast first run to land in second, but was unable to follow up with a strong second run, settling in seventh overall. Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, usually a podium staple in giant slalom, tied Rebensburg four fourth. Newcomer Alice Robinson from New Zealand, who started this season with a bang by besting Shiffrin in the season-opening GS in Sölden to secure her first ever World Cup victory, finished 10.
Thanks to this victory, Brignone now takes the leader bib in giant slalom from Shiffrin, who moves down to fourth in the discipline. But thanks to a significant overall World Cup point lead heading into Courchevel, Shiffrin maintains her overall lead, 165 points ahead of Brignone.
From Courchevel, the women’s World Cup Tour moves to Val d’Isere for the next speed events of the season on Dec. 21-22. Shiffrin, who has never competed in Val d’Isere, choosing in the past to skip the race in favor of rest before the next technical events, plans to race the event to further her goal of winning her first Downhill Crystal Globe.