Coloradan Shiffrin credits strong season’s start to more aggression

United States’s Mikaela Shiffrin celebrates in the finish area after winning an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom in Courchevel, France, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti)

COURCHEVEL, France | Mikaela Shiffrin is getting more aggressive in defense of her World Cup and Olympic titles.

The American won a World Cup giant slalom on Tuesday, her third victory of the season and 34th of her career — one more than U.S. men’s great Bode Miller.

This season, Shiffrin has also won a slalom, her best discipline, plus a first ever downhill to underline her expanding repertoire. The Colorado native is the defending World Cup champion and has already opened up a big overall lead.

She credits her strong start to a change in mental approach, a concerted push to find an edge no matter how she’s feeling on race day.

“Even if I’m tired or I don’t feel perfect, to go into the races feeling aggressive,” she said. “Today, I felt really good, so it was easy to be aggressive. But it won’t always be that way.”

She was fastest in the first run and had a big enough margin to beat Tessa Worley of France by .99 seconds in mild and sunny conditions. Veteran Manuela Moelgg of Italy was third, 1.01 behind Shiffrin.

Although the morning run was held under perfect blue skies and mild conditions, Shiffrin was in no mood to relax. She psyched herself up like a boxer might do before powering out of the corner when the bell sounds for round one.

“I got a little bit mad in the start gate and a little bit angry,” she said. “It was aggressive, so it was a good mentality.”
Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway was fourth, 1.02 behind, missing a second career podium after finishing third in the super-G in nearby Val d’Isere on Saturday.

For Shiffrin, Tuesday’s victory was only her fifth in giant slalom, compared to 26 in slalom.

“I was pushing my limits,” Shiffrin said. “That’s what I’m most proud of, even more than the win.”

Shiffrin is the Olympic and three-time world champion in slalom. She was a silver medalist in giant slalom at the worlds last season.

She will be favourite to defend her slalom title at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February, and a leading contender for gold in the GS.

“If people think I can win a couple of medals that’s actually just a compliment for me, it’s not really pressure,” Shiffrin said. “I don’t even have to go to the Olympics. But I would go because I want to, because it’s an incredible stage to perform and because I want to share my passion for ski racing with the world. I take it as an opportunity, not as a pressure.”

Worley, eighth after the first run, was fast on the bottom section of the Stade Emile-Allais course.

“I was carried by the crowd,” Worley said.

But it was not enough to erase the 1.42 seconds she conceded to Shiffrin in the morning run.

In the overall standings, Shiffrin is a whopping 171 points ahead of German skier Viktoria Rebensburg, who was 14th after a patchy second run.

Worley secured her second podium of the season and 22nd overall, all in GS.

Moelgg got her third podium this season and 14th of her long career. The first was in 2004 and she has yet to win.