The 2013-14 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup opened the New Year on Sunday at Bormio, Italy, where U.S. gate ace Mikaela Shiffrin didn’t miss a beat in the aftermath of Christmas.
Reigning World Championship and World Cup slalom queen Shiffrin, 18, of Eagle-Vail, Colo. captured her sixth career World Cup slalom victory by a .13-second margin over Maria Pietilae-Holmner, 27, of Sweden.
Shiffrin sliced through sloppy snow and rain to win the Bormio slalom for her third straight World Cup top-three finish.
The sixth World Cup slalom victory of her young career and came just 33 days before the start of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Sochi, Russia. The U.S. Olympic alpine team will be named Jan. 26.
Leading by a slim .03 seconds after the first run, Shiffrin powered through the rutted snow to hold off a hard-charging Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden by .13 and stretch her World Cup slalom points lead to 62 points over Austrian Marlies Schild, 32, who finished sixth Sunday.
Shiffrin now holds a 302-240 edge over Schild in the slalom standings after four events. Each of the top contenders has won twice—Shiffrin at Levi, Finland and on Sunday at Bormio, and Schild at Courchevel, Fra. and Lienz, Aust.
The Colorado teen sensation has now captured 13 World Cup podiums to make her the youngest alpine skier in U.S. history to do so. She is second on the slalom all-time list among U.S. women, trailing only Tamara McKinney, who has nine.
In a press release from the U.S. Ski Team, Shiffrin said after Sunday’s win, “It’s always good to keep success going. I’m used to skiing in this kind of conditions because in the East Coast it’s like this a lot. I just kind of get tough and go.
“It was definitely a fight. I was really psyched to win again. It’s been a fight all season and I feel like if I’m not perfectly ready then the win goes to somebody else. So I was really trying to prepare myself to be ready to go today no matter what the conditions or the visibility.
“In the conditions, it’s just making the least amount of mistakes, and I walked away with the win. I’m very excited with how my season is going right now and I think I can do better too, so we’ll just have to keep working on it.
“There’s been a lot of stories about the Mikaela and Marlies battle and it’s exciting. That kind of a battle creates a really great story for the athletes as well.”
Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, 29, failed to finish the second run of Sunday’s slalom but still maintained her slim overall World Cup lead 611-609 over Tina Weirather, 24, of Liechtenstein. Austria’s Anna Fenninger is third with 597 points and Swiss racer Lara Gut fourth, 568.
Shiffrin improved to 514 points in the overall for fifth place—well over halfway to the 822 points she achieved last winter en route to fifth place in the overall standings.
Crested Butte skier leads U.S.
David Chodounsky, 29, of Crested Butte, Co. tied for 15th place to lead the U.S. Ski Team in an Alpine World Cup slalom Monday evening at Bormio.
The race, originally scheduled for Zagreb, Croatia, was hosted with a night final on the lower portion of the famed Stelvio downhill.
German Felix Neureuther, 29, captured the 51,000 Euro victory over Austrian Marcel Hirscher, 24.
American champion Ted Ligety, 29, of Park City slipped onto his left hip on the flattest part of the course before recovering to finish 27th.
It was the first of four Audi FIS Alpine World Cup slaloms to be held in advance of the Jan. 26 announcement of the U.S. Olympic Team for alpine skiing.
Chodounsky, 20th after the first run, entered the race after posting a career best seventh in the Val d'Isere, France World Cup slalom.
The men's tour now moves to Adelboden, Switz. for the 58th year of racing on the famed Chuenisbaergli where Ligety is the defending giant slalom champion.
At Bormio, two-time defending World Cup overall king Hirscher cut into the overall lead of Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, 31.
Svindal still leads the overall race 630-515 over Hirscher. Ligety is third with 333 points and Bode Miller remains in eighth with 230.