Killington (USA): good days for top champions

After the two technical “warm-up” events at Soelden, in Austria, and Levi, in Finland, the 53rd World Cup season enjoyed his first full weekend of alpine racing in North America last weekend on different sites. The leading women technical racers gathered for the third time in Vermont’s Killington, while the best speed specialists fought once more for glory and World Cup points at Lake Louise, Alberta. Top-favorites dominated the two women competitions as Italy’s Federica Brignone and USA’s Mikaela Shiffrin dominated the giant slalom and the slalom races in New England on the East Coast.

More wins for Brignone and Shiffrin

Thanks her brilliant 2nd run in Killington’s short but intense giant slalom, Brignone collected her first World Cup win of the season – and her 9th in total in three different disciplines – as she clearly finished ahead of Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinkel, fastest in the morning run. Austria’s Stefanie Brunner clinched her maiden World Cup podium coming in 3rd ahead of Shiffrin and France’s Tessa Worley, the winner at Soelden last month. Last month, Brignone was a happy 2nd at Soelden, in Austria – which helped her to take over the red leader’s bib in that specialty as France’s Tessa Worley, the winner in Austria, was a distant 5th. Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg unfortunately skied out in the second leg after clocking the fastest intermediate time.

On Sunday, Mikaela Shiffrin overcame difficult weather and course conditions to celebrate her third consecutive slalom victory at Killington with a clear advance on Petra Vlhova while the reigning Olympic champion Frida Hansdotter from Sweden was 3rd ahead of Austria’s Bernadette Schild, 3rd a week earlier in Finland.

Shiffrin, already out of reach at Levi last Sunday, has now captured 45 World Cup competitions since the start of her World Cup career at Spindleruv Mlyn in March 2011, including 34 slaloms. Only Marlies Schild, the older sister of Bernadette and the slalom winner at Spindleruv that year, has done better in that specialty than the 23-year-old who strongly reinforced her lead in the overall World Cup standings before the upcoming speed events in Lake Louise next week. So far, Mikaela seems on a good path for a third consecutive big crystal globe!

“It surely has been a great fight today with the conditions, a pretty tough race for all of us,” Mikaela told the press. “It has been a very emotional and special day for me, I could hear that great crowd from the start, it was amazing, the crowd really carried me down the slope today,” she added. “I am now looking forward for the speed races now as I had some solid training last summer.”

A year ago, Shiffrin enjoyed an amazing win in the second downhill race in Canada. She’ll surely also battle hard in Super-G on Sunday for her first ever victory in that specialty. Two established experts – USA’s Lindsey Vonn and Italy’s Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic champion, will miss that speed week because of injuries.

Good points for Gabriela Capova.

While Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova endend a strong 7th in the giant slalom, Czech’s Gabriela Capova didn’t manage to qualify for the second run of that race. Fortunately, she fought back the next day in slalom finishing at a promising 19th place. She equaled that day her best performance on the World Cup circuit accomplished last January at Kranjska Gora, in Slovenia, where she was also 19th.  It’s a crucial result for the 25-year-old racer who managed to improve her position in the slalom rankings. She is now in 38th position there compared to her 47th place before the race. It should boost her confidence before her next technical races back in Europe.

Written by: Patrick Lang