One day after getting her career first podium in a speed event with a third-place finish in the downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin did herself two better with her first downhill win.
The 22-year-old reigning overall world cup champion finished in 1:27.55 Saturday to win the Lake Louise downhill Saturday. Shiffrin’s time bested 2010 Olympic giant slalom gold medalist Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, who finished second at 1:27.68, while Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin took third, finishing in 1:27.72.
Friday marked the first downhill event of the world cup season, and Shiffrin’s third-place finish came as a surprise given that the course doesn’t tend to favor the more technical skiers. She’d only raced downhill world cups twice prior to Friday, and her previous best finish was 13th.
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Saturday was Shiffrin's fifth podium in six races this season. She has reached the podium in world cup slalom and giant slalom races 46 times. She’ll look to defend her 2014 Olympic slalom gold medal and is expected to contend for medals in the giant slalom and combined, but this weekend's results in downhill create another interesting possibility for the 2018 Olympic slate.
Olympian Lindsey Vonn, who was on her way to a win when she crashed on Friday, was briefly in third place Saturday before finishing 12th. Team USA’s Stacey Cook was sixth while Jackie Wiles finished 23rd.
Racing continues in Lake Louise on Sunday with the women’s super-G.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.