Calling the victory bittersweet, Mikaela Shiffrin, the two-time Olympic champion, won a World Cup giant slalom on Monday in Courchevel, France, her first time atop an Alpine podium since the accidental death of her father, Jeff, 10 months ago.
“It was a pretty incredible day, obviously,” said Shiffrin, who was in tears during interviews at the bottom of the racecourse. “But I’m pretty sad. I mean, it’s a bit bittersweet.”
Shiffrin’s last World Cup victory was on Jan. 26 in a super-G in Bulgaria, a race attended by her father, who flew home to Colorado shortly thereafter. He died on Feb. 2, and Shiffrin, then the three-time defending World Cup overall champion, did not compete again for the rest of the season.
Before Monday, she had raced three times since late November, finishing second, fourth and fifth. Regardless of the results, Shiffrin admitted she was melancholy after each event because a favorite part of her post race ritual had been to discuss the day and her performance with her father.
“After everything, I didn’t really know if I could come back to this level because it’s a lot of energy to focus like that and to put the toughness and strength in your skiing,” Shiffrin said Monday. “I’ve done it — I used to do it all the time — but I’m at a different place and didn’t know if I could do it again.”
Monday’s win was the 67th World Cup victory for Shiffrin, 25, which ties her with the recently retired Marcel Hirscher for third in career wins for both men and women. Only Ingemar Stenmark and Lindsey Vonn have more victories, with 86 and 82, respectively. Shiffrin won convincingly Monday, finishing 0.82 seconds ahead of Federica Brignone of Italy. France’s Tessa Worley was third, 0.27 seconds behind Brignone.
“I’m really proud of my skiing today; it’s still pretty special,” Shiffrin said. “And it’s a really big testament to my coaches and my mom and everybody around me — my whole team and my family. I definitely didn’t ski alone today. I had a lot of strength from a lot of people to help me get down.”
Petra Vlhova, the current leader in the overall World Cup points standings, did not finish her first run Monday. The women’s World Cup continues this weekend with downhill and super-G races in Val d’Isére, France.