Courtesy of Killington Resort
By Evan Johnson
Saturday saw temperatures reaching a high in the mid-40s by 2 p.m., meaning soft, bright conditions on the upper portions of Superstar before dropping into the bottom third on Preston’s Pitch, which lay in flat light.
Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg was third out of the starting gate and raced to claim first place in her first run of the day, timing in at 58.39. The United States’ Mikaela Shiffrin sought to challenge her, placing just .26 seconds behind her. Italy’s Manuela Moelgg finished her first run of the day in third at 58.96 while Stephanie Brunner of Austria held onto a fourth place position.
Tessa Worley, who won the Giant Slalom last year, settled into a fifth place position with a time of 59.04, followed closely by Italy’s Federica Brignone.
USA’s Megan McJames was the second fastest American in the first run, placing 29th. Nina O’Brien showed a strong start in the first exchange, but dropped to nearly 4 seconds behind the leader to finish in 34, qualifying her for the second run. Patricia Mangan did not finish her first run after one of the largest wipe-outs of the day. Mangan was able to ski off the course. Resi Stiegler finished 52, and for her first ever World Cup start, A.J. Hurt finished 45.
Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg maintained her spot ahead of the pack, Saturday afternoon, fending off close effort from American champion Mikeala Shiffrin to win the Giant Slalom race.
Saturday afternoon saw a change in weather as heavy clouds brought flat light for the length of the course. Racers’ times were on average slower than their first run in full or nearly full sunshine. Rebensburg finished .85 seconds slower on her second run. Mikaela Shiffrin was a full second slower on her second run while third-place finisher, Manuela Moelgg of Italy was a second slower as well.
From the top of the course, Rebensburg said she couldn’t hear the crowd below her, but she could hear the wind and the rain on the tent.
“We are used to racing in rain, snow and fog, it’s important to be prepared,” she said. “I was surprised because it was so dark.”
Rebensburg, who won at the World Cup’s last stop in Soelden, Austira said she made a mistake early in hear second run, which she knew cost her speed.
“At that point I knew I needed to push harder,” she said.
As soon as she’d crossed the finish line, she said the news that she’d beaten Mikaela Shiffrin by .67 seconds was a surprise.
“I was thrilled to see the green light,” she said.
While this is Killington’s second time hosting the World Cup, Rebensburg said the stop has already established a reputation.
“It’s highly ranked among [racers] for the crowd and the conditions,” she said at a press conference following the race. “Even when we came up for practice, we were amazed at how many people there were so early in the day. The conditions were perfect. They did everything they could to make a good race.”
After taking fifth in Soelden, World champion Mikaela Shiffrin said her performance at Killington was a “step in the right direction.”
“I felt a lot more confident in my skiing today so I’m excited to keep that momentum going.”
Part of that momentum is building for the coming Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Shiffrin said she’s trying to have a consistent performance every weekend as she prepares.
“It’s less of trying to get one massive peak for the Olympics and trying to peak at every race. The Olympics are part of that.”