Dec 28, 2013, 8:26 AM EDT
In landing on another podium, Mikaela Shiffrin made sure she also landed a spot in Sochi in a second event.
The American teen finished third behind Austrian Anna Fenninger and Swede Jessica Lindell-Vikarby in a World Cup giant slalom Saturday in Lienz, Austria, the final Olympic qualifying event in the discipline.
With the next World Cup giant slalom race not scheduled until Feb. 1 in Maribor, Slovenia, and the U.S. selecting its Olympic Team on Jan. 26, this was the final opportunity for American skiers to earn points toward Sochi qualification in the discipline.
Shiffrin had already locked up her spot on the Olympic team with her slalom victory in Levi, Finland on Nov. 16, and her runner-up finish in the giant slalom at Beaver Creek on Dec. 1 also virtually assured her an Olympic GS start. Athletes with World Cup podium finishes are nominated for inclusion in the Games. Scoring a second podium finish only served to cement her candidacy.
Based on criteria, three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso would appear to be the next U.S. choice. She could have made that decision a no-brainer with a Top 10 finish – her best GS finish this season was a 12th in St. Moritz on Dec. 15 – but she continued her season-long struggles and wound up finishing 29th. Megan McJames, the only other American on the startlist, did not help her chances of making the Sochi roster when she hooked a tip a few gates before the finish of the first run and skied out.
Although slalom is clearly Shiffrin’s best event – she is the reigning world champion and has reached eight podiums in 22 World Cup starts with five victories – she is steadily entering the conversation of serious medal contenders in giant slalom as well.
Shiffrin has four Top 10 finishes in five starts in the discipline this season, the only blemish a DNF in St. Moritz on Dec. 15. Prior to this race, she opened with a sixth-place effort in Soelden on Oct. 26, finished second in Beaver Creek, and finished eighth in Val d’Isere on Dec. 22.
After one run, Shiffrin found herself in fourth place, .35 seconds behind the pace set by Lindell-Vikarby, who managed difficult conditions on the Hochstein course to open scant leads on Austrians Fenninger and Kathrin Zettel, who came in .02 seconds and .04 seconds behind.
“I’m normally pretty comfortable within half a second on a first run,” Shiffrin said. “It’s always better to come down and feel like you separated yourself from everybody, but I’m not quite there in GS. As long as I am in this position where I can really attack I’m psyched with that.”
Unlike her first run, where she dumped a few fractions of a second in the middle of the course, Shiffrin gained speed through that portion of her second run and carried a .68 second lead to the finish. Zettel followed, but lost most of her first-run advantage by the first time interval and wound up finishing fourth.
Fenninger absolutely pinned the top half of her second run and saw her .33 second advantage on Shiffrin at the start almost double by the first interval. She maintained that speed through the middle and lower sections and crossed with a half-second lead on Shiffrin. Lindell-Vikarby was unable to match that performance, assuring Fenninger of her third straight victory in World Cup races held on Dec. 28. Fenninger, who won this race in 2011, is the first woman to win the Lienz giant slalom twice.
“My preparation was good but I didn’t believe I could win today,” Fenninger told the Associated Press. “It’s funny that I’ve done it again on the 28th. I came here full of good memories and I tried to build on that feeling. I’ve learned a lot in recent years. I used to get distracted easily at races in Austria but now I use the home support as positive energy.”
All five World Cup giant slalom races this season have been won by different women.
It was not a good day for reigning World Cup overall champion Tina Maze of Slovenia and 2010 Olympic champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, who each found themselves than two seconds off the lead pace set by Lindell-Vikarby during Run 1. Maze wound up finishing 14th while Rebensburg was 24th.
American Lindsey Vonn is sitting out this weekend to rest her re-injured right knee ahead of the Sochi Olympics.
Lindell-Vikarby added 80 points to her season total and continues to lead the World Cup season standings in giant slalom 332 points. Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, who finished 17th, remains the overall points leader with 609, 12 points ahead of Fenninger.
“The overall World Cup is not really an issue now, although people keep asking me about it,” Fenninger told AP.
The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues in Lienz tomorrow with the women’s slalom. The first run begins at 4:30 a.m. ET and second run at 7:30 a.m. ET. Shiffrin and Austria’s Marlies Schild figure to be among the top contenders.
“Last time I was in Lienz, I didn’t have a great GS race but I had a pretty good slalom race, so I’m really excited for tomorrow,” said Shiffrin, who earned her first World Cup slalom podium as a 16-year-old on this course. “I’m just thinking day-by-day and trying to put my best skiing out there. I feel like I always leave something on the hill, and I don’t want to do that anymore.”
Lienz Giant Slalom
1. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 2:17.00
2. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (SWE) 2:17.50
3. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 2:17.51
4. Kathrin Zettel (AUT) 2:17.96
5. Nadia Fanchini (ITA) 2:18.19
6. Federica Brignone (ITA) 2:18.30
7. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) 2:19.21
8. Anemone Marmottan (FRA) 2:19.33
9. Nina Loeseth (NOR) 2:19.48
10. Denise Karbon (ITA) 2:19.54
29. Julia Mancuso (USA)
DNF Megan McJames (USA)
Aug 26, 2014, 6:01 PM EDT
Comoros, British Virgin Islands, Romania join together in track and field finale.
Aug 26, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
Olympic ice dancing silver medalist tries out non-Olympic sports.
Aug 26, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT
German, British, Dutch dressage teams win medals at World Equestrian Games.
Aug 26, 2014, 10:07 AM EDT
Americans complete dominating 13-game run.
Aug 25, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
Le Clos won five medals at the 2010 Youth Olympics before shocking the most decorated Olympian ever in London.
Aug 25, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
Even his coach doubted him, but Jonathan Horton made good on a December vow.
Aug 25, 2014, 11:23 AM EDT
Mixed-gender, mixed-team relay will include athletes from all track and field events.
Aug 25, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Men prevailed in the 200m and 800m.
Aug 25, 2014, 9:23 AM EDT
Filipino gymnast was separated from Singapore shooter at age 3.
Aug 24, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT
“This was his toughest climb,” his coach said.
Aug 24, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT
Two-time Olympic medalist left off.
Aug 24, 2014, 12:04 PM EDT
Mo Farah breaks a European record; Allyson Felix fails to make 100m final.
Aug 24, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT
Bolt has his slowest season since 2007.
Aug 24, 2014, 8:27 AM EDT
Ledecky faster in 1500m free at 17 than Ryan Lochte was at 19 in 2004.
Aug 23, 2014, 11:59 PM EDT
The World all-around champion fell on balance beam and still won easily.
Aug 23, 2014, 11:58 PM EDT
Finals at 5 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Aug 23, 2014, 5:48 PM EDT
Poland’s Ewa Nikola Swoboda “appeared to tumble forward before the gun went off.”
Aug 23, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT
Chinese martial arts-derived sport joins others seeking Olympic inclusion.
Aug 23, 2014, 2:34 PM EDT
Mo Farah, Allyson Felix, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in action.
Aug 23, 2014, 1:22 PM EDT
Bolt bettered his only other 100m this year.
- Jonathan Horton boosted by 2008 teammate to successful return 0
- Sam Mikulak rallies for repeat P&G Championships title (video) 0
- Usain Bolt ends his season 1
- Katie Ledecky smashes another world record at Pan Pacs 4
- Simone Biles awes judges, U.S. legend to repeat at P&G Championships 0
- Usain Bolt wins 100m in Warsaw after Humvee entrance 1
- Katie Ledecky breaks world record, Michael Phelps wins at Pan Pacs 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (57)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (38)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)