Facing a bit of a rough patch, at least by her own standards, Mikaela Shiffrin debuted on a new course on Friday and returned to her winning ways with a world cup victory in the downhill.
Racing in Bansko, Bulgaria, for the first time ever, Shiffrin prevailed by .18 seconds over Italy’s Federica Brignone in an event that historically hasn’t been her strongest. The victory was her 65th on the world cup circuit but just her second ever in the downhill, her first coming in in December 2017 at Lake Louise, Alberta. She’d only ever competed in downhill in Lake Louise and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, before Friday, reaching the podium four times including a second-place finish at Lake Louise this past December.
This one came at a good time for the three-time Olympic medalist. It was her first win of 2020 and snapped a stretch of five races without a victory, all in her more practiced events of slalom, giant slalom and combined.
Shiffrin completed Friday’s race in 1:29.79. Brignone had a time of 1:29.97 and Switzerland’s Joana Haehlen came in third with a time of 1:30.02. Fellow American Breezy Johnson finished 10th for her best finish in 22 months. There is another downhill competition on Saturday, followed by a super-G on Sunday.
This was Shiffrin’s circuit-leading fifth win of the season. Looking for her fourth consecutive world cup overall title, she holds a commanding lead with 1,075 points, ahead of Brignone in second place with 795 points and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova trailing closely behind with 766.