Two-time defending World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin began the season with her 63rd podium appearance, finishing third on a very difficult giant slalom course on the Rettenbach Glacier in Sölden, Austria, Saturday.
“It’s always nice to come back to Sölden,” said Shiffrin, who won in Sölden in 2014 and now has four podium finishes in the traditional season opener. “There are always emotions like nerves, and excitement and uncertainty about how I’m going to perform for the race.”
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Coming off a busy summer of media, sponsor obligations and on and off snow training, the defending World Cup champion also carried expectations that as the best ski racer in the world, she would charge out of the gate and win.
“There are still expectations, but I’m trying not to pay so much attention to like ‘why should I feel so, so disappointed,'” she said. “Especially because I had a podium today. Of course, I want to win, but there are many girls out there who want to win. I was able to start the season with a podium and it’s a great thing. It’s not enough, but it’s OK for now and it’s a good place to start.”
After finishing third in the first run, Tessa Worley of France charged down the bumpy track to hold on for her first career victory at the venue in Sölden. First run leader Federica Brignone of Italy made a few mistakes in the mid-section of the course on her second run, but found speed through the lower portion to hold off Shiffrin for the second podium spot.
Snow, sleet, and wind forced race organizers to move the race eight gates down to the reserve start, and conditions varied dramatically from the top of the course to the finish, providing an inconsistent, unforgiving surface.
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The opening FIS Ski World Cup men’s giant slalom in Sölden, Austria, was canceled on Sunday due to heavy snow and strong winds. After last year’s cancellation, the International Ski Federation (FIS) has changed the rule, and it is now possible to replace the opening race in case of a cancellation. FIS is expected to announce early next week a replacement date and venue for Sunday’s canceled race.
The women’s FIS Ski World Cup continues Nov. 17 with a slalom event in Levi, Finland. The men will kick off their World Cup season in Levi, Finland, with a slalom race.