runs,” said Schild, who also collected a slalom world championship last season. “But, I
passed them really perfectly. I’ve had good times here and bad times; I only remember
the good. I always like the slope — it’s really difficult, you have to push from start to the
finish, and that’s fun.”
Because of the Levi cancellations, Aspen was hosting the season’s opening slalom.
Schild picked up right where she left off and started the season with the victory by more
than a second ahead of last year’s Aspen slalom winner, Swede Maria Pietilae-Holmner.
Defending overall champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany shook off a slow start to
the season (24th in Soelden, second run DNF in Aspen GS) in third place. “It was really
important to trust in myself, which was not so easy after my fall in the GS yesterday,” said
Hoefl-Riesch, adding that being the defending overall champion didn’t bring any extra
With Vonn out of the game, the local fans’ hopes turned to Mancuso and 16-year-old
Mikaela Shiffrin. The Burke Mountain Academy product more than lived up to the hype as
she fought off nerves to stand 13th after the first run, earning her first World Cup second
run in her fourth attempt.
“I was nervous today, I don’t know why,” said Shiffrin between runs. “My mom was sitting
with me the whole morning just saying: ‘You know how to ski, just do it. You’re going to
be fine; there’s no pressure.’ And I didn’t believe it; I started doubting what I could do…if
I ever do that, I feel like I might as well never race.”
Shiffrin was the only American woman to make the flip after Mancuso finished the first
run in 31st.
In the second run, Shiffrin looked nothing like a 16-year-old, with the fourth-fastest time
to finish eighth. “I feel good, I’m really excited; all I can say is it’s unreal,” she said with a
huge smile. “I’ll for sure be excited for the next five months, but it’s also going to take me
probably five years to realize I’m here, that I’m even racing here.”
To put Shiffrin’s accomplishment into perspective, consider that it took Lindsey Vonn 12
World Cup starts to score a point, (a 26th-place result). Shiffrin, still technically a J2-level
racer, cracked the top- 10 in her fourth Cup appearance.
Very much a student on and off the racecourse, the high school junior took advantage of
her time around the World Cup’s best to cram for the rest of the season. “I’ve been watching them all studiously, watching them, trying to study up, figure out how I can get to that
level as quick as I can,” said Shiffrin of her new peers.
Julia Mancuso rocks her Squaw Valley trail map suit on her way to a third-place result in the Aspen GS.
“I was trying to breath deeply at the
start and the farther down the course,
I started believing,” said Mikaela
Shiffrin after her eighth-place finish
Defending overall champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch reached her first podium of the
season in third in the slalom.
Austria’s Marlies Schild avenged her
first-gate exit of last season to claim her
10th win in her last 15 World Cup starts.