The race looked like it was over just minutes into the start of the slalom event at the HomeLight Killington World Cup. Mikaela Shiffrin was the third to start and set a whopping lead of 1.13 seconds over the 63-gate course over Slovakia’s Petra Vhlova and 1.74 seconds over Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener that no one even came close to challenging. Fourth place skier Katharina Liensberger of Austria was a full 2.03 seconds back. As the fast, ice-hard course began to rut up, times got slower and spills more frequent.
“I had pretty close to a perfect run,” Shiffrin said in the finish area after the first run, then corrected herself to say “Of course, I’ve never had a perfect run in my life.” She admitted “In the middle of the run I slowed down a little bit then said to myself, ‘what am I doing’ and picked up the pace.” The course was pretty straight and, as Shiffrin said, “there were times when I felt like I was just pointing them down straight – which is kind of scary when you are on slalom skis.”
University of Vermont ski racer and U.S. Team member Paula Moltzan, currently the second-fastest American slalom skier on the World Cup after Shiffrin looked strong as she flashed down the first section of the course, punching forward with her fists at each gate. Moltzan, who had been nursing a sore back, sat out the giant slalom race yesterday to be ready for today’s race. Moltzan who has been soaring up in the World Cup slalom rankings, had the fifth-fastest time after the second time split, got bucked back slightly and then went down… and down…and down. On a course that was as hard as asphalt, she slid to the bottom and crashed into the safety gates. “I just felt this shooting pain go up my back,” Moltzan said after the race, heading in for physiotherapy. She had started in 23d. Just behind her and starting in 37th, American Nina O’Brien a Burke Mountain Academy grad and Dartmouth ski racer went down as well. As did fellow team member and Dartmouth ski racer Foreste Peterson. Keely Cashman, the 2019 giant slalom national champion from Squaw Valley was the only other American to finish and ended up 43. Of the 61 starters, 17 either fell or were not able to complete the course.
Laurence St. Germain, the Canadian Ski Team member who graduated from the University of Vermont last May had a strong run, finishing 13th. Federica Brignone who finished second in the giant slalom yesterday drew a start bib of 31 and finished 11th.
Of the 61 starters, only 43 finished.