Mikaela Shiffrin misses podium, bumped from No. 1 in giant slalom rankings

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Mikaela Shiffrin had her worst World Cup giant slalom result in two years and was overtaken for No. 1 in the World Cup standings in the discipline in the penultimate GS race before the Olympics.

Shiffrin, the reigning Olympic GS champion, finished seventh in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Saturday. Swedish veteran Sara Hector earned her second win in the last three GS races after going seven years between victories.

Hector, 29, pushed Shiffrin to second in the World Cup GS standings, the best indicator for Olympic medal prospects. The women race a slalom on Sunday, live on Olympic Channel and Peacock.

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin was 14th after the first of two runs with no major mistakes, then seventh-fastest in the second run. She was racing on two days of GS training since revealing a positive coronavirus test on Dec. 27, NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said.

“Four runs on my GS skis yesterday was not enough to hope or even wish that I could compete with the top women today, who showed very strong and very brave skiing,” Shiffrin said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “Still, I am disappointed to feel today that I was so far away from GS skiing that was just right there not too long ago. I’ll work to get that feeling back but for now, the job is to reset and recover the best I can for tomorrow’s slalom.”

The finish snapped Shiffrin’s streak of seven consecutive podium finishes between GS and slalom to start the season.

Paula Moltzan had a heavy crash in the second run after ranking 22nd in the first run. Moltzan and Nina O’Brien, who failed to qualify for the second run, still all but clinched their first Olympic berths as the second- and third-highest-ranked U.S. women in GS after Shiffrin this season.

As did River Radamus, the top U.S. men’s GS skier, after the last men’s World Cup men’s GS before the Olympics took place Saturday. Moltzan, O’Brien and Radamus’ places should become mathematically secure next week.

Moltzan, a 27-year-old who earned her first World Cup podium last season, is set to become the oldest U.S. female Alpine skier to compete in her first Winter Olympics in more than 70 years.

O’Brien, 24, has a best World Cup finish of ninth. Last season, she was in second place after the first GS run at the world championships. She led as the penultimate skier in the second run before a late mistake dropped her to 10th.

Radamus, 23, was a decorated junior racer with three golds from the 2016 Youth Olympics and two golds from the 2019 World Junior Championships. His best World Cup finish is sixth.

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