Lake Louise, CANADA: Mikaela Shiffrin bagged the first downhill win of her career here Saturday – but said she remains unlikely to chase a gold medal in the discipline at next year’s Olympics.
The 22-year-old American star – the undisputed queen of slalom and reigning champion in the overall World Cup rankings – won after clocking 1min 27.55sec.
Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg was second with a time of 1:27.68, while Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin was third in 1:27.72.
Shiffrin’s compatriot Lindsey Vonn, who had suffered a heavy fall in Friday’s first race, finished tied for 12th in 1:28.48.
The day belonged to Shiffrin, who was competing in only the fourth World Cup downhill race of a career which until now has focused on the technical disciplines of slalom and giant slalom.
Shiffrin had signalled she was ready to make a strong challenge in the downhill this weekend after clinching her first podium with a third place on Friday.
However, the American said she didn’t expect her success this weekend to change her focus at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February, where she is likely to skip the downhill.
“It’s not a 100% no, but skiing in five events is a probably a little bit ambitious,” she said. ‘My priority is still slalom and GS, then combined, then super-G, then downhill ... long story short, probably no.”
The race was delayed twice by power outages that knocked out the resort’s ski-lifts. That forced competitors to be hauled to the top of the run via a snow tractor and prompted officials to shorten the course – something Shiffrin acknowledged worked to her benefit.
“Shortening the distance was definitely an advantage toward me, because on the top section I am not as good there, but from where we started, it’s fairly technical, I felt very good about that yesterday,” she said. “I took even more risks today, it paid off.
“I had also very good light and for some of the girls it was pretty dark,” Shiffrin added. “I definitely know I was lucky today and yesterday, but I skied well, I took some risks, it was really fun.”
But Shiffrin said she doesn’t know just how many more downhills she’ll contest this season as she aims to maintain her dominance in the technical events.
“Lake Louise was a very good opportunity, because I know the track,” she said. While she’ll “play it by ear” in considering more downhills her immediate plan was clear.
“I have to get back to technical training,” she said after notching the 33rd World Cup win of her career and the second of the season following her triumph at the Killington slalom last weekend.
Shiffrin, the three-time world champion and 2014 Olympic slalom champion now leads the overall World Cup standings with 465 points following her fifth podium in six races.
She leads Rebensburg by 149 points in the standings.- AFP