Mikaela Shiffrin was tired. She skied, admittedly, scrappy at times. Her back was a little bothersome.
The results: first- and second-place finishes in a pair of giant slaloms in Courchevel, France, the last two days.
“It was just a tough day,” Shiffrin said after finishing runner-up Wednesday to Sara Hector, .35 of a second behind the Swede who got her first World Cup win in seven years. “That’s amazing to have second place.
“My body is saying, OK, it’s time to take any sort of rest.”
Shiffrin gets that in the form of a Christmas break this weekend.
The women’s World Cup moves to Lienz, Austria, for a giant slalom and slalom next Tuesday and Wednesday (live on Peacock). Shiffrin won both races the last time the circuit stopped there in 2019.
In Courchevel, she managed the challenges in the first two of eight consecutive technical races (GS and slalom) through Jan. 11 that will likely determine the favorites in those events for the Beijing Olympics in February.
Shiffrin noted that she was tired after her first run in Tuesday’s race, which she still won by a substantial .86 of a second. Then on Wednesday, she felt “something like spasms” in her back when hitting bumps in rough snow in her first run, where she was third fastest in the field.
Dry needling before the second run helped, and she moved up one spot and stood on a fifth consecutive GS podium dating to last season.
“These next couple weeks it’s also a big push, it’s also tough,” she said on ORF. “But I think, some point, we get into the groove, and if I can get just one day of rest [before Lienz], it should be OK.”
The last two days of racing lacked three of the world’s top GS skiers — world champion Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland, New Zealand’s Alice Robinson and world slalom champion Katharina Liensberger of Austria — who sat out after positive coronavirus tests.
Even so, Shiffrin positioned herself well as she builds up to, hopefully, ski all five individual events at the Olympics for the first time. She has raced close to a full World Cup schedule, despite that back injury that curtailed training two months ago.
Shiffrin has finished no lower than second in six GS and slalom races this season. She also ranks fourth in the world in super-G with two podiums in four starts. And her best event at the Olympics may be the combined, which is not raced on the World Cup.
No skier who has raced all five events at an Olympics has ever come away with four medals.
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