There was, finally, an exception to the rule. Mikaela Shiffrin, the teen star of the U.S. Ski team from Eagle-Vail, Colo. delighted hometown fans at the FIS Audi World Cup at Beaver Creek, with a second place finish in the Giant Slalom. It has been Shiffrin’s goal to bring her GS skiing up to her World Championship slalom level and that first podium felt great.
“I had a blast,” an exuberant Shiffrin told NBC’s Todd Brooker at the finish line. “I’m happy to be on the podium… so psyched.”
The podium appearance brightened what had been a rather dim weekend for the U.S. women as they had finished surprisingly far back in the pack in both Friday’s downhill and Saturday’s super G, both won by Switzerland’s Lara Gut.
But, it was a nail-biter Sunday as first run leader Jessica Lindell-Vikerby from Sweden followed Shiffrin and was the last racer the course in the second run. All Shiffrin and the hometown crowd could do was hold their collective breath.
But, Lindell-Vikerby’s time was a combined two minutes,17.19, ahead of Shiffrin’s 2:18.01. Tina Weirather of Lichtenstein was third in 2:18.48. No other American finished with Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley continuing her disappointing season start by going off course in her second run.
Switzerland’s Gut couldn’t continue her magical weekend in the GS going off course in the first run. Still, the magic of winning both the downhill and super G left her in first place in the women’s overall standings with 300 points to Shiffrin’s 220.
The women trade places with the men next weekend heading to Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada for a downhill and super G. Lindsey Vonn, recovering from another knee injury, said she may compete even though she said she faces more surgery at some point.
The men take over in Beaver Creek with a super G, downhill, and Giant Slalom. The GS puts the USA’s Ted Ligety into the spotlight he has owned.
Top American in the men’s super G at Lake Louise Sunday was Travis Ganong in 22nd, with Bode Miller 23rd. Winner was Aksel Lund Svindall or Norway in 1:28.53 with Austrians Matthias Meyer second and Georg Streitberger third.
Photo: Mikaela Shiffrin, left, on her first GS podium (Beaver Creek/Facebook)