Mikaela Shiffrin put the split with her long-time coach behind her as she won a memorable seventh world title when she stormed to giant slalom glory at the World Ski Championships in Meribel on Thursday.
The US star, who parted company with Mike Day on Wednesday after seven incredibly successful years, clocked a combined total of 2min 07.13sec down the Roc de Fer piste in bright, sunny conditions to claim her 13th world championship medal.
Italy’s Federica Brignone took silver, at 0.12sec, with Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinckel rounding out the podium (+0.22).
Shiffrin, the 2018 Olympic gold medallist in the GS who bagged a world super-G silver last week on the same slope, was perfectly poised after laying down the quickest run in the first leg.
While the 27-year-old only managed the 12th fastest second leg, it was enough to hold off a clutch of capable rivals, taking her to 13 career medals at the world champs, including seven titles (seven gold, three silver, three bronze).
Shiffrin is now level with Sweden’s Anja Paerson on 13 world medals. Only Germany’s Christl Cranz (15), skiing pre-WWII, has claimed more.
A seventh world title also saw Shiffrin draw level with Paerson, Marielle Goitschel, Marcel Hirscher and Toni Sailer, while Cranz has 12 to her name.
New Zealander Alice Robinson, 27th fastest in the first leg, took charge of the second, before handing over to American Nina O’Brien, Norwegian Thea Louise Stjernesund and Italy’s Marta Bassino.
Bassino held the lead as the field went into the top 10, Slovakia’s 2019 world champion Petra Vlhova and Sweden’s Olympic champion Sara Hector failing to budge the Italian who won super-G gold on the same slope last week.
Mowinckel eventually grabbed the lead, just ahead of Switzerland’s defending world champion Lara Gut-Behrami.
Then came the top three from the first leg.
Brignone, the Olympic silver medallist in the discipline and world alpine combined winner here last week, went 0.10sec clear of Mowinckel and straight into the ‘leader’s chair’.
France’s two-time former world champion Tessa Worley was next, in front of a raucous flag-waving home crowd.
She initially lost, but then regained her lead going into the final third of the course. But drama ensued as the 33-year-old slid out, left prone on the snow shaking her head in disappointment.
All eyes turned on Shiffrin, who kicked out of the start hut and delivered a gliding masterclass on the top section before attacking the pitches of the piste.
She never lost her advantage despite one error within view of the finish line and collapsed on her back after shooting across the line in first spot.
Gut-Behrami had to be content with fourth spot, at 0.31sec, Bassino in fifth (+0.80) just ahead of Norway’s Mina Fuerst Holtman and Vlhova.
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