In her first two career World Cup downhills, Mikaela Shiffrin improved five spots from Friday to Saturday in Lake Louise, Alberta.
Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion, finished 13th in Saturday’s race, 1.46 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec.
Stuhec also won Friday, when she was 1.99 seconds ahead of Shiffrin, who then tied for 18th. Shiffrin’s goal for Saturday was to build more speed from Friday. She accomplished it.
“That’s what it’s supposed to feel like!” Shiffrin said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “So, that’s cool.’”
Shiffrin is the world’s best slalom skier and a World Cup winner in giant slalom. She added super-G to her repertoire last season (15th- and 29th-place finishes) and, this season, plans to race all disciplines (but not all races) to become one of few all-around skiers on the circuit.
Shiffrin continues to focus on her goals in slalom (staying at the top) and giant slalom (becoming a consistent podium finisher/winner). She will race downhill again this season, but she doesn’t know when.
“I don’t know how many more downhills I’ll do this year, but just doing it at all and feeling that speed is an amazing experience,” Shiffrin said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “I’ll just try to lock that feeling away in my journal and then see what happens next time I do a downhill. … I’ll be back on the downhill circuit, but I have to keep sight of my real goals this season.”
Swiss Lara Gut was second Saturday, cutting Shiffrin’s World Cup overall standings lead to 128 points. Gut is the defending World Cup overall champion and appears to be Shiffrin’s biggest and perhaps only threat to this year’s overall crown.
Shiffrin is now guaranteed to finish the Lake Louise weekend as the World Cup overall leader, with a super-G remaining Sunday (1 p.m. ET, streaming on NBCSports.com).
With a bevy of technical races (slaloms and giant slaloms) through Jan. 10, she could hold onto the lead into the middle of the season.
Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.Follow @nzaccardi