Isabella Wright, Mikaela Shiffrin and Breezy Johnson share a moment: Photo Brian Pinelli
Cortina d’Ampezzo, ITALY
Mikaela Shiffrin had no problems switching from tech skis to long boards, finishing second in the opening downhill training run in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Shiffrin was 0.16 seconds behind Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami, who kicked out of the gate just before the U.S. star. The two veteran racers, respectively, skied 20th and 21st.
Their start positions proved advantageous as Wednesday’s training run was initially delayed 30 minutes due to a mass of fog hanging over the upper part of the Olympia delle Tofane piste. The earlier starters took their runs under improving, yet less than perfect conditions at the top of the run.
Shiffrin will have three opportunities at the Italian Dolomites resort to achieve World Cup victory No. 83 over the coming days. If she manages the feat, she’ll break the current tie with former teammate Lindsey Vonn, both at 82. The 27-year-old Colorado racer was more than satisfied with her run but admitted luck was on her side.
“The run felt really nice and I think that I had very good light, so I’ll take that and be thankful,” Shiffrin said in the Cortina finish area shortly after her run.
“I’ve had limited time on the downhill skis, so any time I get good light, it’s like, ‘thank goodness.’
“The track feels amazing, and I felt comfortable on my skis,” Shiffrin said about the 2,660-meter Olympia delle Tofane race course.
Shiffrin’s outlook for the races
Despite the quick training run and three top-six results, including a super-G victory, at her most recent speed races in St. Moritz, in December, Shiffrin wasn’t overly bullish about the Friday and Saturday downhills, plus a super-G on Sunday.
“Realistically, I don’t really see that victory coming this weekend,” Shiffrin said. “This was a very good run, so it certainly makes me hopeful that I can be fast for the races. But it’s always a step-by-step process, especially with downhill.
“Basing it off St. Moritz, I don’t know if I have that extra bit of speed to win in downhill. But I can be close and for me, that’s really exciting,” she said
The road to the record
Shiffrin’s first opportunity to break LV’s record came at the Flachau night slalom on January 10th. She was beaten by rival Petra Vlhová, finishing second, 0.43 seconds behind the Slovak slalom specialist. For Vlhová, it was her first win of the season.
Shiffrin matched Vonn’s mark with her 82nd victory in a Kranjska Gora giant slalom, on January 8th.
Of Shiffrin’s 82 career World Cup wins, three have come in downhill. Five have been in super-G.
‘Amore’ for the iconic Italian piste
Shiffrin’s track record at the future 2026 Olympic Winter Games venue has been impressive. She won four medals at the 2021 World Championships – gold in alpine combined, silver in giant slalom, and bronze in super-G and slalom.
Additionally, she attained a third place result in a World Cup downhill in 2018. One season later, she won a super-G.
Not surprisingly, Shiffrin has an affinity for the historic Italian piste. It will be the site for women’s alpine races at the 2026 Milano-Cortina Olympic Winter Games.
“I like this track because it flows really well. It’s normally very well-prepared and even when it’s tough, it’s still very good to ski. And I also think it’s good practice to get on this downhill for the coming years.”
Other Stifel U.S. Ski Team finishers included Isabella Wright, who was 9th, 1.08 seconds off Gut-Behrami’s pace. Breezy Johnson, who was injured in a training run crash last season that prevented her from competing at the Beijing 2022 Games, crossed the line in 17th.
Cortina 2021 World downhill champion Corinne Suter finished 18th, out of the 14th start position. The 2018 Olympic downhill champion and Italian fan favorite Sofia Goggia ended 16th, from the 8th start position.
“Cortina has a place in my heart – I’ve had some great memories, but also some bad memories,” said Goggia, referring to a nasty crash just below the Tofana Schuss last season, three weeks before the Beijing Olympics.
“The first training run was a bit conditioned by the fog, but the slope looks really nice and the surface is very smooth,” Goggia added.
Approximately six to eight centimeters of snowfall are expected at 2,000 meters in Cortina on Thursday. However, race directors don’t expect it to pose any significant problems. The Olympia delle Tofane downhill start is situated at 2,320 meters.
The second downhill training run on the Olympia delle Tofane track is scheduled for 11:00 A.M. local time, 5 A.M. EST, on Thursday.
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