U.S. Skier Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Giant-Slalom World Championship in Courchevel and Méribél, France

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates her victory. Credit: Reuters

U.S. race skier Mikaela Shiffrin won Gold at the 2023 World Championships in Courchevel and Méribél, France, in Giant-Slalom. It is the American’s first-ever World Championship victory in Giant Slalom, after placing second in 2017 and 2021 and third in 2019.

Shiffrin came into today’s race as the favorite, as she is currently the 22/23  World Cup leader in Giant-Slalom with 600 points, 118 points in front of Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami. Expectations were high for the 27-year-old American to win her first Giant Slalom World Championship, but many were wondering if the shock split from her long-time coach, Mike Day, announced just two days prior, was going to wreak havoc with her nerves.

The starting list was long and consisted of 114 skiers from all over the world. The top-ranked skiers went first in a randomly drawn order. Shiffrin was the third starter after France’s Tessa Worley and Sweden’s Sara Hector. The American took the lead 0.12 seconds in front of Worley and 0.31 seconds in front of Italy’s Federica Brignone, 0.64 seconds ahead of Lara Gut-Behrami in fourth, and 0.71 seconds ahead of Ragnhild Mowinckel from Norway.

Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela on course. Credit: Reuters

Only the top 60 skiers qualified for a second run, which included Shiffrin’s teammates Nina O’Brien and Katie Hensien. Unfortunately, Paula Moltzan did not finish her run but was not alone as 20 skiers wound up with a ‘DNF.’

The second run in Giant Slalom is done in reverse order for the top 30 women, meaning Shiffrin would go 30th before the bottom-ranked 30 skiers got their second run. All eyes were on the last five skiers. Ragnhild Mowinckel put down a very fast second run, placing her in the first position with four skiers to go. Lara Gut-Behrami was up next, but the Swiss could not quite match the Norwegian’s pace and remained 0.09 seconds behind. Next up was Federica Brignone, who took the lead from the Norwegian. With only two skiers to go, a medal was certain for the Italian superstar, who had already won the Super-G and the Alpine Combined last week. Going for Gold was France’s, Tessa Worley. The French skier went hard and fast and was poised to take the lead, but three-quarters down the course, Tessa’s ski caught an edge, causing the skier to fall.

Shiffrin was the last of the top 30 and, realistically, the only one with a chance to beat the Italian. Mikaela was fast out of the gates, and her run looked to be the fastest second run, but towards the bottom section, her left ski slid out, causing her to go too wide, which she knew cost her valuable time. When she crossed the finish line, her eyes darted nervously to the time on the big screen, bracing herself. Instead, her hands covered her mouth, muffling a shriek as she realized she had just achieved her big dream, a Gold in Giant-Slalom at the World Championships. In an interview with FIS later, the American admitted to being nervous, saying, “My whole body went numb down there, and I was almost blind at the bottom… so much stress!”

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