Mikaela Shiffrin finally has a World Cup giant slalom victory all to herself, in her 38th start in the discipline.
Shiffrin, the world’s best slalom skier, notched her first solo GS win in Semmering, Austria, on Tuesday. She prevailed by .78 of a second over two runs, after leading by .27 after the first run.
France’s Tessa Worley was second, followed by Italian Manuela Moelgg.
“I believed in myself for the first time in a GS race, and that was very emotional,” said Shiffrin, who pumped her fists and screamed after crossing the finish line. “I don’t expect to win every GS now. I’m just trying to go with this feeling.”
Before Tuesday, Shiffrin had won 23 World Cup races before the age of 22, 22 of them in slalom and one shared giant slalom victory from two years ago. A solo GS win had eluded her, amid a trio of runners-up, two thirds and a string of eight straight top-10s earlier in her young career.
Shiffrin said she focused on giant slalom in recent training, limiting her slalom training to “every now and then” while she holds a 14-race winning streak in that discipline.
“I keep training GS, eventually I have to get good at it, right?” Shiffrin joked. “Hopefully, it helps my GS and doesn’t hurt my slalom too much.”
Remember at the Sochi Olympics, Shiffrin said she dreamed of winning five gold medals at PyeongChang 2018. She must still make substantial gains in the speed events of downhill and super-G to make that a possibility. Her best World Cup speed-event finish is 13th in five career starts.
However, a goal of becoming World Cup overall champion is becoming more and more possible. Shiffrin moved 55 points clear of Swiss Lara Gut in the standings through 13 of a scheduled 37 races Tuesday.
Shiffrin could become the youngest World Cup overall winner since Janica Kostelic in 2003 and the third U.S. woman to claim the title (Tamara McKinney, Lindsey Vonn).
“It’s a dream to win, but I’m not expecting to win this year,” Shiffrin said. “Lara is so strong in every event. … I’m just trying to focus on giant slalom and slalom and see what happens.”
Also Tuesday, Austrian Anna Veith, in her first race since March 22, 2015 due to knee surgery, was 49th out of 60 finishers in the first run and did not qualify for the 30-skier second run.
Veith, the 2014 and 2015 World Cup overall champ, hit a stone early in her run, damaging a ski, according to the Associated Press.
“Unfortunately this was not how I thought it would be,” Veith said, according to the AP. “But I am happy that I was back at the start again even though the skiing was far off from where I want it to be.”
The women’s World Cup continues with a giant slalom and slalom in Semmering on Wednesday and Thursday, both live on NBCSports.com/live. The night slalom’s second run will also air live on NBCSN on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET.Follow @nzaccardi