Mikaela Shiffrin’s costly mistakes mean missed opportunity

AP
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Mikaela Shiffrin paced to the starting gate of her second giant slalom run in Sestriere, Italy, as the final racer on Saturday. The leader after the first run, the slalom ace could win her first World Cup giant slalom outright.

What’s more, Shiffrin’s rival for the World Cup overall title, Swiss Lara Gut, had an unsatisfactory descent minutes earlier and sat third.

But Shiffrin neither notched the benchmark victory nor padded her standings lead on Gut. She made mistakes near the top of the course, critically needing to correct swiftly to avoid missing a gate.

Shiffrin appeared to know the afternoon’s hopes were lost when she crossed the finish line. She didn’t need to check the scoreboard at the 2006 Olympic venue.

Sixth place, 1.04 seconds behind French winner Tessa Worley. Shiffrin was .05 ahead of Worley after the first run.

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Shiffrin has won 22 World Cup races before the age of 22, 21 of them in slalom and one shared giant slalom victory from two years ago. A solo GS win has eluded her, amid a trio of runners-up, two thirds and a string of eight straight top-10s earlier in her young career.

Shiffrin’s standings lead for the World Cup overall title was cut from 28 points to eight points over Gut, last year’s overall winner.

Though Shiffrin figures to add to the lead Sunday, she needs to make the most out of every slalom and giant slalom. Gut’s best races are downhill and super-G, disciplines that litter the second half of the season once the calendar turns over.

On Sunday in Sestriere, Shiffrin hopes to win her 11th straight World Cup slalom (not counting the five she missed due to injury last season).

The record for any women’s World Cup discipline is 11 straight wins, set by Annemarie Moser-Proell in downhill from 1972-74.

Olympic champions Lindsey VonnAnna Veith and Julia Mancuso have yet to make their season debuts, all out due to injuries.

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Correction: An earlier version of this post stated Vreni Schneider won 12 straight slaloms. She won 10 straight, her streak snapped by failing to finish a race.