Mikaela Shiffrin, who opened the World Cup season with four straight podiums and two wins, could not find her usual speed Tuesday, finishing 17th in a giant slalom in Couchevel, France.
Italian Federica Brignone won and snatched the World Cup GS standings lead from Shiffrin through three of a scheduled nine races. Shiffrin, the Olympic GS champion, won the season-long World Cup GS title for the first time last season.
On Tuesday, Shiffrin was “visibly upset, speechless and a little stunned,” according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard, after her worst result since the PyeongChang Olympics and her worst for a tech race outside of DNFs in more than five years.
“I have a lot of thoughts, but I probably shouldn’t say any of them on camera,” she joked, according to a press release. “Look, it’s not really OK for me to expect something more from the day. I mean … I skied and I placed how I placed. The girls who are ahead of me skied harder, better and cleaner than me.”
Shiffrin was 19th after the first run and had the 11-fastest time in the second run. She finished 1.65 seconds behind Brignone, who edged Norwegian Mina Fuerst Holtmann by .04. Shiffrin’s coach Mike Day set the course for run No. 2.
“I don’t have any excuse, really,” Shiffrin said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “They did an amazing job preparing the surface. The slope was actually in an amazing condition. Both courses were really fun to ski, and my equipment has been really great in training and everything. There’s really no one to blame but myself. I’m for sure going to watch my video. It’s experience, and there’s always a lesson to learn. Right now it feels heartbreaking, but it’s also not the end of the world, so we just have to move on to the next one.”
In the World Cup GS standings, Brignone moved from 14 points behind Shiffrin to 71 points ahead.
The Italian is likely to go into 2020 with the lead, given there is one World Cup GS over the next month and race winners receive 100 points for a win on a sliding scale for the top 30 finishers.
Shiffrin is still comfortably ahead in the chase for her fourth straight World Cup overall title, 165 points clear of Brignone.
Shiffrin skipped Sunday’s parallel slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland, her third time passing on a tech race (aside from injury) since she burst onto the scene as a teenager in 2012. She used the time off to rest after last Saturday’s super-G, ahead of Tuesday’s GS and this weekend’s downhill and super combined in Val d’Isere, France.
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