MERIBEL, France — Mikaela Shiffrin was fastest in the first run of the World Cup season-ending giant slalom Sunday to set up an unlikely title success.
Shiffrin, who attached a ribbon in the yellow and blue colors of Ukraine’s flag to her helmet, started the race at Méribel third in the giant slalom season standings. She needed at least a top-3 finish to overtake Sara Hector and Tess Worley if they also both under-achieved.
That is exactly how it went in the opening run where new overall World Cup champion Shiffrin made good use of her early start wearing bib No. 2 in the sun-bathed French Alps.
Shiffrin was 0.82 seconds ahead of Federica Brignone while Worley was 1.60 back in eighth and Hector, the standings leader and Olympic champion, was in a mystifying 13th place with 2.10 to make up in the afternoon run.
“It’s been quite some time since I skied like that in a GS (giant slalom),” Shiffrin told Swiss broadcaster RTS. “I’m excited to have the chance to try it one more time.”
If Shiffrin holds on for the race win after the second run, Worley would need to place at least third and Hector fourth for each to earn enough points to finish above the American skier.
She previously won the season-long World Cup giant slalom title in 2019, and took gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
Hector won a first career medal or trophy at the Beijing Olympics in a career year for the 29-year-old Swede who also won three World Cup races.