Mikaela Shiffrin finished second to Italian Federica Brignone in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Saturday.
Shiffrin, the Olympic, World and World Cup slalom champion, was seeking her first solo World Cup giant slalom victory but finished .85 of a second behind Brignone after two combined runs on the Rettenbach glacier.
“I had more confidence than I have had in a [giant slalom] before, so I think it’s a good place to start,” Shiffrin said in a press conference. “I was nervous. The last couple of weeks I’ve been more and more nervous each day. Then the past, about yesterday and today, all of a sudden it was like I’m sick of being nervous. I just want to ski well.”
Shiffrin tied for the win in Soelden last year with World Cup overall champion Anna Fenninger, who is out for the season with knee injuries following a training crash earlier this week.
Brignone, who made the first of her seven previous World Cup podiums at age 19 in 2009, took her first career World Cup win. She was fastest in the first run, .95 ahead of Shiffrin, and held on with the ninth-fastest second run.
“I’m grown up,” Brignone said in a finish-area interview.
Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather was third followed by Swiss Lara Gut. Weirather and Gut could challenge Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn for the World Cup overall title, the biggest prize this season with no Olympics or World Championships.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to win the overall globe,” Shiffrin said. “But I think this year is a little bit of a gauge to see where I can stack up. Obviously today is a really good start. … It’s a little bit early to tell.”
Vonn, a four-time World Cup overall champion, opted not to race Soelden after skiing on snow in Austria on Thursday and Friday for the first time since fracturing an ankle in an August training crash. She’s expected to debut this season in the next giant slalom in Aspen, Colo., on Nov. 28.
The men’s season opener in Soelden, featuring Olympic and World champion Ted Ligety, is Sunday.
The women’s World Cup continues with a slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 14.
“After an Olympic gold medal and a couple of World Championships gold medals, I feel like I can kind of relax a little bit,” Shiffrin said. “I don’t have pressure like I have to win a big event.”
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