Shiffrin wins emotion charged race in Courchevel

the emotion written across her face said it all as Mikaela Shiffrin crossed the line and was besieged by people wanting to ask her questions about how she felt. This was the first win for her of season and the first since she returned to the sport since her father had died. Shiffrin had lead after the first run and then conquered the hill to take the overall win ahead of Federica Brignone and Tessa Worley. Michelle Gisin and Katherina Liensberger rounded out the top five finishers.

This was the second of two races scheduled on the reformatted calendar due to Covid-19. The first had been held with fresh snow and flat light and while the weather had cleared for the Sunday, it was decided to postpone for a day to properly prepare the piste. And what a piste they came up with. It was brutal. Hard, injected snow meant that the courses were technically demanding and a number of racers succumbed to the conditions, including Quinn Estates sponsored racer Alex Tilley.

Shiffrin had produced the goods on the first run to lead from Marta Bassino (winner of the two previous Giant Slalom's) and Federica Brignone. Run two would be a case of who dares wins.

Marie Therese Tviberg from Norway used her early start on the second run to put her case out and held the lead before ending up 15th at the end of the race, the result of the third fastest time on the run. Marina Gasienica-Daniuel from Poland was the next to produce a great run from starting in 19th place to take the lead. Her second fastest time would see her move up to 11th overall.

Katharina Liensberger is fast making a name for herself amongst the new wave of Austrian women's racers and it will not be long before she betters the five third places she has already scored in her World Cup career. Liensberger posted the fastest second run time to move up from eighth to fifth overall.

The brutal conditions saw many racers on the absolute limit in terms of coping with the icy conditions. Some coped much better than others and there was a huge amount of movement from where racers finished on the first run to how they ended up after the second.

The saying 'Never give up' was evident when Federica Brignone slammed down on her inside but managed to keep the momentum going and get back up and keep going. It is moments like these that Brignone will look back on at the end of the season and think she has score 80 points when she could well have lost 80 points. Tessa Worley, watching on in the finish must have though it might be her day when she saw Brignone go down. She had already seen off the threat of Stephanie Brunner, another of promising young Austrians.

After winning the first two races in the Giant Slalom World Cup, Marta Bassino was going for the hat trick but her race came to a halt on the second run leaving Brignone in the lead.

This left Mikaela Shiffrin at the start and the world willing her on. Shiffrin was behind at the first split on Brignone's time bit after that this was vintage Shiffrin. This is why she is one of the greatest racers of any generation. She attacked, she carved turns, she drove rather than slid her skis into the entry to turns and this saw her open up a nearly one second lead over the field.

As the US Ski Association wrote: "It was a beautiful moment when she crossed the finish line ahead of the field, as the community at the bottom of the hill realized that this was Mikaela’s first win after her father’s sudden passing. Mikaela took a moment in the finish corral, sitting on her skis and hugging her legs—seemingly letting it all wash over her. Emotions ran higher when she stepped off the podium and into her mom’s arms, as she cried through her post-race interview."

“It was a pretty incredible day, obviously,” said Mikaela through tears. “But I’m pretty sad. I mean, it’s a bit bittersweet. But it’s pretty special.”

This is why we watch ski racing.

Full results

Picture courtesy of Agence Zoom

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