U.S. Teen Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Slalom Opener In Finland
It didn’t take long for the USA’s teen star Mikaela Shiffrin from Eagle-Vail, Colo. to make it clear her stunning performances last winner were no fluke. Shiffrin, 18, dominated the opening World Cup slalom in Levi, Finland Saturday with a wire-to-wire victory.
“I’m a ski racer at heart,” Shiffrin said, “so I’m happy to be back on snow, back in winter. It was really foreign to me this summer with all the media and everyone so excited about the Olympics. It’s awesome and it’s a great place to be for sure, but I had no idea what to expect. So it’s nice to have my feet back on the ground, back in a place I know.”
Shiffrin made two “amazing recoveries “ – one in each run – and defeated 2010 Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Reisch of Germany by a wide margin -- 1.06 seconds -- and reigning overall World Cup champ Tina Maze by 1.61.
Shiffrin, in just her third season on the World Cup tour, can already claim third place among American women for slalom wins. Tamara McKinney posted nine and Kristina Koznick, six, in their careers. The only other American ever to win a World Cup in Levi was Lindsey Vonn, making the USA the only nation with multiple victories at the Finnish resort.
The Colorado teenager picked up 100 World Cup points and — even better — a 6-months old reindeer she immediately named Rudolph.
Neither Lindsey Vonn, nor Julia Mancuso made the tip, preferring to continue training in Colorado. The USA’s Resi Steigler and Paula Moltzan started the race, but did not make the Top 30 final.
The women’s World Cup tour now returns to its American leg at Beaver Creek, Colo. Nov. 29-Dec. 1 for a downhill, super G, and giant slalom (no slalom). Vonn plans to make her much-anticipated return to the race course in the Beaver Creek downhill. The resort will host the 2015 World Alpine Skiing Championships.
In the Sunday men's slalom, American Ted Ligety finished a respectable 11th.
Photo: Mikaela Shiffrin wins slalom in Levi, Finland (FIS-ski.com)