Far from the joy of the Italian winner Federica Brignone, the American favorite Mikaela Shiffrin created the sensation by going out in the last gates of the combined slalom, the first event of the Alpine Skiing World Championships on Monday in Méribel.
A year later, Shiffrin finds the bitter taste of the failure experienced at the Beijing Olympics where, despite her talent and her immense record, she had sunk with three off the track and no podium.
The sun floods the resort of Méribel, yet almost asleep Monday at halftime of the Alpine Combined, where a meager public made the trip for the return of the World Championships in France. Eileen Shiffrin walks up the main street, her back arched under her champion daughter’s belongings and skis.
Yet accustomed to carrying a ton of expectations on her shoulders, Mikaela Shiffrin caused a sensation and woke up the finish racket by coming out at the bottom of the slalom, when the title seemed to be reaching out to her. An almost unthinkable scenario as the American has had the season of her life, with 11 victories in 23 World Cup races.
Her abandonment brings back memories and ghosts of the Beijing Olympics, where, a year ago, the champion had cracked for the first time in her career, without being able to explain her failure.
Over the past three seasons, Shiffrin, an ultra-reliable skier, has only gone off the track five times, including three at the Olympics and once at the Worlds.
The American must now relaunch herself to avoid the scenario known in China, she who must still align herself with the super-G, the giant slolom and the slalom in Méribel.
She had managed to recover from her failure at the Olympics to achieve a record season so far, bringing her total success to 85 to surpass the women’s record of her compatriot Lindsey Vonn (82) and approach that of Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark ( 86).
– Brignone, the eye of the tiger –
Winner of the combined, the Italian Federica Brignone is not a champion at a discount, despite the failure of Shiffrin.
Superb in the morning during the super-G, disputed with a terrifying and inspiring tiger printed on his helmet, Brignone had pushed the competition far, in particular Shiffrin to almost a second.
Voluntary, the 32-year-old Italian managed the second time in the slalom, a feat when she rarely competes in this event on the world circuit.
She thus far outstripped the Swiss Wendy Holdener (at 1 sec 62), double world champion in the specialty (2017 and 2019), and Olympic silver medalist in the total of the two rounds.
Austrian Ricarda Haaser completes the podium at 2 sec 26/100, while double Olympic champion Michelle Gisin only took sixth place.
Best Frenchwoman, Laura Gauché launched the Mondial des Bleus with a seventh place.