World Championships: Mikaela Shiffrin secures Combined gold as FOURTEEN riders fail to finish
It is not uncommon to see one, two or even three skiers fail to finish a race, particularly in icy conditions. Yet the Alpine Combined at Cortina on Monday saw an astonishing FOURTEEN riders fail to finish an extremely tricky course. The master of the conditions was Mikaela Shiffrin, who dominated the slalom and took her very first Alpine Combined gold medal at the World Championships.
American Mikaela Shiffrin poses with her gold medal after winning the Wowen's Alpine combined event
'Pinpoint perfection' - Watch Shiffrin's blistering slalom run that secured gold
Shiffrin went down in 45.05, 0.52 ahead of her technical rival Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, no-one else could get close.
Only one other skier could break the 46 seconds mark, Michelle Gisin, as a plethora of skiers found themselves struggling with the icy course.
Mikaela Shiffrin takes third in Super G leg of Alpine Combined
No fewer than fourteen skiers failed to finish, notably among them Wendy Holdener and Federica Brignone.
Federica Brignone tumbles out in stunning fashion at just the third gate
The failure of Brignone, just seconds in at the third gate that proved extremely tricky throughout the day, came as a huge shock after the Italian had dominated the Super G.
"I was never focused or right for the race," Brignone told Eurosport in the mixed zone.
"It was very tough, I am hugely disappointed. I attacked too much and I made a misjudgement, I thought it would be easier than it really was. I was so happy with the way I skied this morning, close to the slalom specialists, I knew I had to attack but I attacked too much.
Her compatriot Elena Curtoni finished second in the first half of the event but like the rest of her fellow skiers she couldn’t handle the slalom course and finished over two seconds behind Shiffrin.
Shiffrin, one of the few who can actually pick up and control her speed on icier conditions was quoted by her federation saying “It’s ice, so I like it,” before the race.
The victory is Shiffrin’s sixth gold medal at the World Championships, which puts her ahead of both Lindsey Vonn and the newly-retired Ted Ligety as the American with the most golds at the worlds.
“I’m happy that we decided to put this in the plan at this World Champs," Shiffrin said after the event. "It was a really nice day beautiful weather, really great tracks both events.
"It was a really tough slalom so really happy I got down a good run
'It was a tough slalom!' - Mikaela Shiffrin on tough second run
"When you look at that the top finishers it’s kind of the girls who are strong in both events so I guess it makes a lot of sense.
It’s definitely a tough slalom the conditions were really well-prepared but it’s real slalom and it’s absolutely necessary given the men are coming down late
"It’s fair for the whole field but it’s intimidating some times to go down on the surface it’s a bit like going down to battle so you have to be psyched."
With the speed events now finished for the women Shiffrin will turn her attention to the Giant Slalom and Slalom events, with this performance sending down a marker.
OUR VIEW – AN OMINOUS WARNING FOR SHIFFRIN’S RIVALS
Sometimes it can feel as if we take Mikaela Shiffrin for granted, such is her brilliance.
It isn’t being talked about enough that she didn’t ski in Super G for over a year.
Then she comes to Cortina, takes the bronze medal in the Super G race and finishes third again in the speed leg of the Alpine Combined, it’s ridiculous.
Her Slalom was, as you would expect, sublime, and Petra Vlhova will be concerned finishing over half a second off her great rival.
With Shiffrin absent and injured this season Vlhova has been the queen of technical this season but there is no doubt she is going to have her work cut out for her for the rest of this week.
As for the course it was clearly tricky, the number of DNFs tell its own story. The frustration amongst the piste was evident and as Eurosport commentators Nick Fellows and Finlay Mickels pointed out this race could serve as Alpine Combined qualification for the Olympics.