ALPINE SKIING: Robinson stuns Shiffrin, Pinturault wins in Soelden Giant Slalom

Surprise Soelden Giant Slalom winner Alice Robinson of New Zealand

The FIS Alpine World Cup season opened – for the 20th straight year – in Soelden, Austria, with surprises from the start.

The women’s Giant Slalom opened the event on Saturday and after the first run, it was – as expected – American Mikaela Shiffrin in the lead at 1:07.89, followed by 17-year-old Alice Robinson of New Zealand. No one else was close.

But neither was as sharp on the second run, with Robinson posting the 14th-fastest time, but taking the lead as Shiffrin lined up to go last. But she was only 18th-fastest down the mountain, struggling a little on the bottom half, and ended up second, 2:14.36-2:14.42.

Said Robinson, “It’s like a dream for me and I’m still in shock. To be honest I won by such a small margin against Mikaela, I still feel really lucky to stand here.”

It was Robinson’s first win ever on the World Cup circuit and the first World Cup win by a Kiwi skier since Claudia Riegler won a slalom race in 1997. For Shiffrin, it was a remarkable 84th career World Cup medal.

The men’s Giant Slalom was a first look at the post-Marcel Hirscher era, as the eight-time Austrian World Cup champ has retired. One of the favorites to take over is France’s Alexis Pinturault, and he did not disappoint, taking the lead on the first run and then coming back with the fifth-fastest time in the second run to win by 0.54 over countryman Mathieu Faivre. It was his 25th career World Cup win and 13th in the Giant Slalom.

American Tommy Ford, 30, was fourth, his best finish ever in a World Cup; his prior best was fifth in Alta Badia (ITA) in December 2018 (also in a Giant Slalom). Ted Ligety of the U.S. was fifth. Summaries:

FIS Alpine World Cup
Soelden (AUT) ~ 26-27 October 2019
(Full results here)

Men/Giant Slalom: 1. Alexis Pinturault (FRA), 2:14.14; 2. Mathieu Faivre (FRA), 2:14.68; 3. Zan Kranjec (SLO), 2:14.77; 4. Tommy Ford (USA), 2:14.84; 5. Ted Ligety (USA), 2:15.23.

Women/Giant Slalom: 1. Alice Robinson (NZL), 2:17.36; 2. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), 2:17.42; 3. Tessa Worley (FRA), 2:17.72; 4. Mina Fuerst Holtmann (NOR), 2:18.21; 5. Federica Brignone (ITA), 2:18.23.