The Nature Valley Aspen Winternational has been in full swing this weekend. Saturday kicked off two weekends of Audi FIS World Cup in the United States with the women’s GS. Tina Maze of Slovenia took first place, continuing her streak of being undefeated this season in the World Cup GS. The U.S. Ski Team put up a solid effort with Mikaela Shiffrin’s 9th place finish proving to be the highlight of the day. Veteran’s Julia Mancuso finished in 15th, while Lindsey Vonn followed in 21st.
Seventeen-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin has been the talk of the World Cup circuit this season, and for good reason. The young ski racer continues to ride confidently and consistently, outperforming a number of her more experienced peers. She managed to come out of her 42nd starting position to finish ninth — a career best giant slalom finish at the Nature Valley Winternational. This performance also comes after her third place podium slalom finish in Levi, Finland.
After the race Shiffrin spoke of her strong performance, stating, “In GS, it’s a big breakthrough for me. I may have approached the second run even a little bit better. The first run I over skied some sections, but I felt awesome – like I was training. So I accomplished my goal for the first run, and second run, it was just like, ‘Take it down the hill. See if you can go any faster.’ And I think I did.”
She went on to say, “It gives me confidence for both GS and slalom knowing that I can do it in two events. I just need to keep moving forward – never being satisfied with what I’ve done and always trying to improve.”
While Lindsey Vonn’s 21st place finish is a bit of a disappointment for both the skier and the U.S. Ski Team, it’s fantastic that she was able to compete. Due to a bout of illness, Vonn’s original plan of staying stateside to train for the North American World Cup stop was thrown into disarray.
Vonn described what she went through to compete, explaining, “I feel like I’ve run a 100-mile marathon. And I’ve never run more than five miles in my life. It was a struggle. I tried so hard to get energy back up for the second run, but I just didn’t have it. … I didn’t have the power to arc the turns.”
Clearly still suffering from the effects of her illness, Vonn will sit it out until next weekend’s three speed races in Lake Louise. This will be another opportunity for Lindsey to play the North American home field advantage, and is a stop that she consistently dominates.
The World Cup action continues with Sunday’s slalom where Mikaela Shiffrin is a favorite.