SEMMERING, Austria — Overall women’s World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin held on to a big opening-run advantage to win a giant slalom Tuesday, the American’s first triumph in the discipline in more than a year.
Carrying a lead of 0.72 seconds over Petra Vlhová from the first leg, Shiffrin lost nearly six-tenths of the advantage when her Slovakian rival posted the fastest time in the final run but ultimately won by 0.13 seconds.
The result marked Shiffrin’s fourth World Cup win of the season and 78th overall, leaving her four short of the women’s record set by her former teammate Lindsey Vonn.
Marta Bassino, who won the previous GS and remains in the lead of the discipline standings, was 0.31 behind in third. Olympic GS champion Sara Hector of Sweden trailed by 1.52 in eighth.
It was the 15th GS win in total for Shiffrin, who was the 2018 Olympic champion, but the first since triumphing in Courchevel, France, in December 2021. She had just one podium result from the seven previous giant slaloms in the calendar year 2022.
“Very special,” Shiffrin said about ending the drought. “GS is one of the hardest events for me, but also, when I’m skiing well, then it’s just amazing.”
The race was a replacement for the season-opening giant slalom that was canceled in another Austrian resort, Sölden, in October, and is the first in a three-day series, followed by another GS on Wednesday and a night slalom the next day.
“The start of [an event] with three races is always a bit nerve-wracking. You hope that you are on the right shape, that you can bring intensity to the start,” Shiffrin said.
The American won all three events when Semmering last hosted races on three consecutive days, in December 2016, and she was on her way to the first of her four overall World Cup titles.
Sofia Goggia, the Italian speed specialist who is runner-up to Shiffrin in the overall standings, does not compete at Semmering, enabling the American to extend her lead to 205 points.
Shiffrin laid the foundation for her victory with a near-flawless opening run.
She had a blistering start at Semmering, won considerable time on her rivals in the first 15 seconds of the run and posted the fastest split times in all but the last section.
“From the first turn, I felt very good, I was very strong and dynamic, so I am super happy with my skiing,” said Shiffrin, who earlier this season won two slaloms and a super-G.
U.S. ski team coach Magnus Andersson set the gates for the second run on the Panorama course, which was in solid condition despite days of mild weather in eastern Austria.
“For me, it’s much better than I expected for the warm temperatures,” Shiffrin said.
“The second run was a bit wild sometimes, but I really enjoyed racing here. It’s not easy to win these races, with a big lead after the first run.”
Valérie Grenier posted the fourth-fastest time in the opening run but was disqualified as the Canadian had left the start house too early.
Shiffrin’s American teammate Paula Moltzan placed 10th, two weeks after earning her career-best eighth at a GS in Italy.