Bernadette Schild

Mikaela Shiffrin wins 5th straight World Cup, longest streak in 20 years

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More history for Mikaela Shiffrin, one of the world’s most dominant athletes in any sport.

She became the first Alpine skier to win five straight World Cup races in 20 years on Tuesday, coming from behind at a night slalom in Flachau, Austria.

Shiffrin won for the eighth time in nine races overall, prevailing by .94 of a second combining times from two runs over Austrian Bernadette Schild.

Schild led Shiffrin by .37 after the first run, when Shiffrin said her timing was off. Shiffrin’s coach, Mike Day, set the course for the second run.

“This was the first time [this season] that I was coming from behind in the first run, and I had to make a statement,” she said, according to The Associated Press. “That was really important for me, a really big checkmark on the way to the Olympics because when we are there, anything can happen, and I want to be mentally prepared for all those possibilities.”

Two of Shiffrin’s closest slalom rivals — Slovak Petra Vlhova and Swiss Wendy Holdener — skied out in the first run.

Full results are here.

Shiffrin became the first man or woman to win five straight World Cup races since German Katja Seizinger in 1997.

She also tied Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell‘s record for most World Cup wins before turning 23, grabbing her 41st career victory and 10th this season.

Lindsey Vonn, the female record holder with 78 victories, had seven at this age.

Shiffrin is favored to win three gold medals in PyeongChang (slalom, giant slalom, super combined), which would match the record for an Alpine skier at one Olympics.

All of Shiffrin’s eight wins in this nine-race span have been in slalom (or some variation) and giant slalom.

The Coloradoan grabbed gold in Sochi as the youngest Olympic slalom champion ever. She since matured into the world’s best all-around skier, taking last year’s World Cup overall title and running away in this year’s standings.

The women’s World Cup continues with a downhill and super-G in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, on Saturday and Sunday, live on Olympic Channel.

Vonn will headline those races, which Shiffrin is expected to skip.

Shiffrin picks and chooses speed events where she feels comfortable. She is expected to race the following weekend’s downhill and super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Also Tuesday, Resi Stiegler became the third U.S. female Alpine skier to qualify for PyeongChang, joining Shiffrin and Megan McJames.

Stiegler, 32, has a best finish of 11th from two previous Olympics.

She has a best finish this season of 14th and last made a World Cup podium in 2012, but qualified for the Olympics as the second-best U.S. slalom skier behind Shiffrin this season.

Vonn and other speed racers can qualify the next two weekends.

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Mikaela Shiffrin tumbles to seventh in final World Cup slalom before Olympics

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Mikaela Shiffrin will head to the Sochi Olympics wondering what might have been.

The 18-year-old American phenom had a fourth World Cup slalom victory and an outside chance at wrapping up the season title within reach but after leading the first run, she was thrown off early in the second run and slipped down to seventh place Sunday in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

The Golden Fox race was won by Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter, who after eight career runner-up finishes earned her first triumph on the World Cup circuit. Austrian sisters Marlies Schild and Bernadette Schild finished second and third, respectively.

“This is for sure a dream come true,” Hansdotter said after the race. “It’s amazing to ski well, especially when it is hard and difficult conditions like we had today. I usually don’t ski well when the snow is soft like this so I am very satisfied with my run. I think the key was just to go for it and ski clean.”

Shiffrin had an opportunity to lock up her second straight World Cup globe in the slalom, becoming the first American to do so, by extending her 144-point lead coming into the race to more than 200 points with just two World Cup slalom races to contest after the Olympics. A victory coupled with Hansdotter finishing sixth or below and Schild fourth or below would have done the trick.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

With Hansdotter and Schild watching from the finish area, Shiffrin exploded out of the gate. Not long thereafter, her ski caught a hole in the deteriorated course and nearly knocked her over. She managed to save the run, but the awkward recovery cost her almost all of her speed. Another mistake in the middle of the section prevented her from making up time.

With two days of persistent snow and rain softening the course and making for poor course conditions, Shiffrin had taken advantage of her early bib draw (she started third) to open up a 0.31 second lead over Hansdotter in the first run. She made just one mistake on the steep in the middle section but recovered to keep the green light on her way to the finish.

“It was not great conditions but it was better conditions for me than for the girls coming down later,” Shiffrin said.

World Cup overall leader Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany, who finished 23rd, questioned the decision to start this race in the first place but said it was inevitable given the tight calendar post-Sochi.

“I saw already at inspection this morning that the course is very bad,” Hoefl-Riesch, the 2010 Olympic slalom champion, told AP after the first run. “We knew they would push through this race today at all costs, which is questionable for me so shortly before the Olympics. The snow broke and with my start No. 7 there were already some big holes.”

Reigning World Cup overall champion Tina Maze, who has struggled all season, was hoping to use a strong performance at home as a positive springboard to Sochi but was disqualified for straddling a gate in the second run.

The women’s slalom is scheduled for Feb. 21 in Sochi. Following the Olympics, the final World Cup slaloms will be contested in Are, Sweden on March 8 and in Lenzerheide, Switzerland on March 15.

Kranjska Gora Women’s Slalom

1. Frida Hansdotter (SWE) 1:50.17

2. Marlies Schild (AUT) 1:50.22

3. Bernadette Schild (AUT) 1:50.32

4. Nastasia Noens (FRA) 1:50.41

5. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) 1:50.46

6. Anna Swenn-Larsson (SWE) 1:50.80

7. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 1:50.89

8. Chiara Costazza (ITA) 1:50.93

T9. Wendy Holdener (SUI) 1:50.97

T9. Sarka Strachova (CZE) 1:50.97

Olympic gold medal contender Takanashi wins ski jumping in Hinzenbach

Andrea Fischbacher, 2010 gold medalist, left off Austrian Olympic Alpine team

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When Austria secured the maximum 22 quota spots for its Olympic Alpine team, there figured to be few surprises when its roster was announced.

Instead, there was a shocker.

Andrea Fischbacher, the Vancouver Olympic champion in the super-G, was not among the selections to the world’s strongest overall squad.

Fischbacher, 28, seemed like a lock to make it judging by her pair of Top-10 finishes at last year’s World Championships in Schladming, as well as respectable finishes in the Beaver Creek downhill (8th), as well as the two Cortina d’Ampezzo downhills (10th and 11th). Austria, is in the midst of an even stronger season this year. Her best super-G finish of the season, however, was 17th in Beaver Creek, and she skied out of the final race in Cortina on Sunday, which likely impacted her not being chosen.

Without Fischbacher, Austria will still quite the formidable unit in Sochi. Of the 22 skiers named, 16 have made at least one prior trip to the Games and four have won medals. Marcel Hirscher is a medal contender in at least three men’s events, while the women’s team boasts podium potential in Anna Fenninger, Marlies Schild and Elisabeth Goergl.

The team was dealt an unexpected blow when Hannes Reichelt, the only Austrian to win a World Cup downhill this season, was ruled out of the Games with a herniated disk in his back. Joachim Puchner has been named as his replacement..

Austria’s entire Olympic team will be made up of 130 athletes.

Benjamin Raich, a two-time gold medalist in Torino in 2006, will make his fourth Olympic appearance and has been elected to be the Austrian flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremony in Sochi.

Here is a look at their roster:

Women:

Anna Fenninger – 2010 Olympian

Elisabeth Goergl – 2006-10 Olympian, 2x medalist

Nicole Hosp – 2006 Olympian

Cornelia Huetter

Michaela Kirchgasser – 2006-10 Olympian

Bernadette Schild

Marlies Schild – 2002-10 Olympian, 3x medalist

Nicole Schmidhofer – 2010 Olympian

Regina Sterz – 2010 Olympian

Kathrin Zettel – 2006-10 Olympian

Men:

Romed Baumann – 2010 Olympian

Max Franz

Reinfried Herbst – 2006 Olympian, 1x medalist

Marcel Hirscher – 2010 Olympian

Klaus Kroell – 2006-10 Olympian

Mario Matt – 2006 Olympian

Matthias Mayer

Benjamin Raich – 2002-10 Olympian, 4x medalist

Joachim Puchner

Philipp Schoerghofer – 2010 Olympian

Georg Streitberger – 2010 Olympian

Otmar Striedinger

U.S. Olympic Alpine team announced