Mikaela Shiffrin races to rare win in World Cup downhill edging out Sofia Goggia at St. Moritz

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United States' Mikaela Shiffrin checks her time at the finish area of an alpine ski, women's World Cup downhill race, in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Saturday, Dec.9, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

ST. MORITZ – When Mikaela Shiffrin is even winning downhill races, her rivals have less hope of denying her a record-tying sixth overall World Cup title.

Shiffrin mastered the sharper turns on a sun-bathed course Saturday at St. Moritz to be 0.15 seconds faster than standout downhill racer Sofia Goggia, who won the super-G on Friday.

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Attentively watching Goggia’s run from the finish area, Shiffrin raised both arms and put her hands to her head on seeing that her lead had held up.

“It felt very good with my skiing," said Shiffrin, who was an early starter with the No. 3 bib. “I wasn’t sure if the rest of the run was good enough to be fast.”

Federica Brignone was 0.17 back in third to complete a high-quality podium for the first race this season in the marquee speed event. Racers were clocked touching speeds of 115 kph (71 mph).

Shiffrin earned 100 World Cup points for victory and already leads the season-long standings by 195 from Brignone, the 2020 overall champion.

The 28-year-old American has five overall titles, and a sixth would tie Austrian great Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s record set in the 1970s.

Shiffrin extended her own World Cup race wins record to 91 with just her fourth in downhill. The most recent was in March 2022 at the season-ending meeting at Courchevel, France.

Though Shiffrin is selective picking her downhills — to fit a race and training schedule that prioritizes slalom and giant slalom — she still had top-10 finishes in each of her five starts last season.

Shiffrin was nearly six years into her World Cup career when she first raced a downhill and now has four wins from just 21 starts. She has never won a major championships medal in downhill.

“I don’t win downhill that often, I have won them, (but in) a race like this experience is really important,” she said.

The race was run in bright sunshine under clear blue skies on a -5 C (23 F) day at St. Moritz where the finish is at an altitude above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet).

Victory was keyed by Shiffrin’s cleaner, faster run through the twisting middle section of the 2.5 kilometer (1.55-mile) course. It suited her technical skills more than a speed specialist like Goggia, a former Olympic downhill champion who has topped the season-long World Cup downhill standings four times.

“I’m really happy with my performance," Goggia said. "Skiing like this, a bit dirty with a mistake in the end, I’m still second, so it’s OK, I take it. Tomorrow is a new chapter.”

St. Moritz stages another super-G on Sunday.


AP skiing: https://apnews.com/hub/alpine-skiing

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