Mikaela Shiffrin placed fifth in a giant slalom in Kronplatz, Italy, on Tuesday and saw her World Cup overall standings lead drop to 130 points. The lead may disappear this weekend.
“I had a big struggle with my grip today,” Shiffrin said. “It was really, really bizarre because I’ve never had that kind of feeling where I wasn’t confident standing on my edges. We used the same setup and the same tuning that really works on this kind of snow. For some reason today, it was really, really off from the first gate.”
Shiffrin was ninth after the morning run in Kronplatz before improving to finish 1.09 seconds behind Italian winner Federica Brignone after two runs. France’s Tessa Worley was runner-up, .55 behind, followed by Italian Marta Bassino.
Shiffrin continued a consistent giant slalom season, though. She has placed sixth or better in all seven races this season, including two wins, and ranks second in the discipline’s season standings.
Shiffrin goes into the world championships next month as a favorite for medals in both slalom and giant slalom, a double that hasn’t been done by an American since 1982.
Swiss Lara Gut was fourth on Tuesday to trim five points off Shiffrin’s overall standings lead. Gut is the defending World Cup overall champion, holder of the biggest annual prize in ski racing.
This year’s overall title chase is essentially a duel between Gut and Shiffrin, the latter to possibly become the third U.S. woman to take the crown (Tamara McKinney, Lindsey Vonn).
Shiffrin has led the standings since November but could cede it this weekend with a downhill and super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy (NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app). Gut is stronger in those disciplines — averaging 70 points per race — while Shiffrin is selective on which downhills and super-G she enters.
Shiffrin had planned to enter Sunday’s super-G, but it’s still to be decided for sure, according to the U.S. Ski Team.
Even if Gut wins both of this weekend’s races, Shiffrin should take the overall standings lead back at a Stockholm slalom next Tuesday, the final race before the World Cup takes a break for the world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
The first five races after worlds in February are a downhill, two super-Gs and two combineds, a series that favors Gut. That will be the Swiss’ big opportunity to put distance between herself and Shiffrin before the World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colo., in mid-March.Follow @nzaccardi