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Mikaela Shiffrin Opens Season With Giant Slalom Victory

By Karen Price | Oct. 23, 2021, 10:03 a.m. (ET)

Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates after winning the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Giant Slalom event on Oct. 23, 2021 in Soelden, Austria.


Mikaela Shiffrin said in a press conference prior to Saturday’s first race of the new world cup season that she never feels like she’s ready for the opener. 

She could have fooled us. 

The two-time Olympic gold medalist took on the challenge of the giant slalom course at Soelden, Austria, and now not only has her first race of the season but also her first victory under her belt. Overall, it is her 70th win on the world cup circuit.

Shiffrin was second to Switzerland’s Laura Gut-Behrami after the first run, but only by two-hundredths of a second. Soelden is the longest, steepest giant slalom that athletes face on the FIS world cup schedule, and Shiffrin attacked it on her second run to finish with a total time of 2 minutes, 7.22 seconds, .14 seconds ahead of Gut-Behrami, the reigning world champion in the event. Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, last season’s overall world cup champion, was third with a time of 2:08.52.

It’s certainly a welcome start for Shiffrin, 26, who missed the race last season because of a back injury.   

Asked about her readiness prior to this year’s race, she told reporters, “I never feel ready for Soelden. Maybe there are some athletes who are like, ‘OK, it’s time to race. I’m so ready to race now.’ But I’m pretty much ‘No, I don’t want to race. I don’t want to race. I’m not ready yet’ until it’s time to go and you don’t have a choice and then you go.”

Shiffrin will be going for her third Olympic appearance this coming year, following 2014, when she won gold in the slalom, and 2018, when she won gold in giant slalom and silver in alpine combined. 

Team USA’s Nina O’Brien, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2020-21, also finished in the top 10 on Saturday, with a ninth-place time of 2:09.53. AJ Hurt was 20th and Paula Moltzan was 23rd.

Karen Price

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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