Skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin’s 2019-2020 season was off to a second-place start Saturday in Soelden, Austria, with the double Olympic gold medalist finishing 0.06 seconds behind New Zealand’s Alice Robinson in the women’s giant slalom at the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup opener.
Shiffrin led the field with her first run on the Austrian slopes, clocking 1:07.89, fractionally ahead of 17-year-old Robinson, who posted 1:08.03. The 0.14 margin separating the two heading into the second run didn’t leave Shiffrin much room for error, and though she recorded 1:09.53 on her second run, Robinson’s speedy 1:09.33 made up the deficit.
The effort gave Robinson a total time of 2:17.36, good enough for her first ever world cup victory, ahead of Shiffrin (2:17.42) and France’s Tessa Worley (2:17.72).
Shiffrin, initially a slalom specialist whose repertoire has branched out to include all disciplines of alpine skiing, has won 10 world cup races in giant slalom and the 2018-2019 world cup season title, as well as the 2018 Olympic gold medal. She won bronze in the event at the world championships in March in Are, Sweden.
Following a stellar winter in which she became the first skier, male or female, to capture more than 14 world cup victories in a single season – she racked up 17 in all – and hit 60 career wins, 26 shy of the all-time record, expectations for what Shiffrin will do as a follow-up this winter are high.
Leading up to the start of the world cup, however, the Colorado resident has been realistic about what she’s likely to do. “Who in their right mind can expect to keep repeating that forever?” she remarked earlier this week.
Robinson, a 2018 Olympian who now works with two of Lindsay Vonn’s former coaches, has been testing her mettle in the senior ranks following a successful 2019 campaign that ended with her in second place in the World Cup Final giant slalom in Andorra. With the win in Soelden, Robinson became the youngest skier to win a world cup since Shiffrin seven years ago.