Olympic gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin kicked off the 2017-18 FIS alpine skiing world cup season with a fifth-place finish in giant slalom on Saturday in Soelden, Austria.
The 22-year-old struggled to find the top form that earned her world championship silver in giant slalom last season, as well as four world cup podiums in nine starts. She had a combined time of 1:55.94 in her two runs, finishing 0.74 seconds behind winner Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany (1:55.20). Shiffrin was the only American to qualify for the second run.
Lindsey Vonn, the most decorated women’s skier in world cup history, finished 34th in her first giant slalom race since January 2016. Her time of 55.88 seconds failed to qualify her for the second run, where the top 30 ski racers advance.
Tessa Worley of France finished second in 1:55.34 and Manuela Moelgg of Italy was third in 1:55.73.
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Shiffrin, last season’s overall world cup champion and a three-time defending slalom world champion, sat in second place after the first run behind Moelgg with a time of 55.69 seconds.
She lost her line – and about one second of time – in the first half of her second run.
Megan McJames completed finished the first run in 59.33 for 42nd place and Peterson went 59.70 for 47th in her world cup debut.
The men kick off their world cup season on Sunday with a giant slalom race in Soelden.
Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.