Mikaela Shiffrin just misses GS crown: Gut-Behrami wins | PostIndependent.com

Mikaela Shiffrin just misses GS crown: Gut-Behrami wins

Shiffrin 2-hundredths shy of gold

Chris Freud
Vail Daily
Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami celebrates winning the gold medal as Mikaela Shiffrin comes in second in the women's giant slalom at the world championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, Thursday. (AP Photo/Marco Tacca)

MIkaela Shiffrin raced magnificently, but came up short in a photo finish in the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships giant slalom in Cortina, Italy, on Thursday.

Chasing the one major medal that has eluded her during her career,, Shiffrin edged Gut-Behrami by 10-hundredths of a second in the first run. Gut-Behrami won the seond heat by 12-hundredths of a second, taking the gold by 2-hundredths over Shiffrin.

Austria’s Katharina Liensberger took the bronze, just 9-hundredths off the pace.

This is Shiffrin’s third medal of the 2021 worlds — she ended up with bronze in a delayed super-G and gold in even more delayed super combined on Monday. And Shiffrin will have a crack at her fifth consecutive slalom crown on Saturday.

This is the 10th medal Shiffrin has earned at worlds dating back to her debut in the compeition in 2013 and the second time she has been the runner up in the GS (2017).

While Vincent Kriechmayr and the Austrians have dominated the men’s side of world champs, these appear to be Gut-Behrami’s and Shiffrin’s for the ladies. The Swiss veteran has taken super-G and GS gold from Cortina with a bronze in downhill.

Meanwhile, Shiffrin seems to be emitting the vibe that she is returning to her form at the optimal time. Regardless of what happens in slalom on Saturday, and she will be the favorite, Shiffrin may not be “all the way back.” But this is starting to look like a pretty good rendering of Shiffrin in flight.

“GS has always been so important for me in my entire career,” Gut said to The Associated Press. “I always knew that if I’m skiing well in GS then it’s easy to be fast even in the other disciplines.”

Bigger questions

• Is Mikaela Shiffrin “back” in giant slalom? If we roll back the tape — a whole 10 days ago — before worlds, the big question was Shiffrin’s giant slalom, particularly after a pair of sixth-place finishes in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Jan. 16-17.

Shiffrin was flawless in the first run and had no major mistakes in the second. She just got beat on Thursday by Gut-Behrami. It happens, even to the best.

Truthfully, we really won’t have a definite answer until the firs weekend in March in Jasna, Slovakia, where tech will first be competed after these championships.

• Does Shiffrin continue speed after worlds? While we completely understand the simplified focus of tech in the build-up to worlds in an uncertain season and a difficult time in her life, Shiffrin seems to have been energized by her return to speed.

After slalom this weekend, the tour hits Val di Fassa, Italy, for two downhills and a super-G. These events replace what were meant to be races in Yanqing, China. Just thinking aloud, but Val di Fassa is slightly closer to Cortina than China. Does she take a whirl at speed or just take a week to rest and train for Jasna?

Good for Gut

We’d be lying if we said we weren’t rooting for Shiffrin. That said, huzzah for Gut-Behrami. She is 29 and made her World Cup debut on Dec. 28, 2007. She’s won 30 World Cups, including christening the Raptor, the women’s answer to Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek, with wins in downhill and super-G back in 2013.

Despite all this success — and injuries; a hip forced her to miss the 2010 Olympics; did an ACL on home snow during the 2017 championships and hadn’t won on tour for three years until this season — Gut-Behrami had never won at worlds until last week’s super-G and Thursday’s GS after a 14-year quest.

It’s hard winning one gold at world championships, much less three.

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