Shiffrin crushes field to win world combined and overtake Vonn

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·3 min read
Mikaela Shiffrin is a four-time world slalom gold medallist
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Mikaela Shiffrin won a US record ninth world medal to surpass Lindsey Vonn as she dominated the alpine combined in Cortina d'Ampezzo to take her sixth individual gold on Monday.

Shiffrin, who won bronze in last week's super-G proper, had been in prime position to challenge for the podium after finishing third in the combined's opening super-G.

The 25-year-old then gave a masterclass in slalom skiing to post a combined time of 2min 07.22sec over the two runs down the Olympia delle Tofane course.

"I'm happy we decided to put this in the plans, this world champs," said Shiffrin.

"I felt really good in slalom training in recent days. When you look at the top finishers, it's the girls who are strong in both events so it makes quite a lot of sense.

"It's definitely a tough slalom. The conditions were really well prepared but it's a real slalom... it's intimidating to go on that surface. It's like going into battle.

"You have to get psyched up and do the very best skiing to come down fast and even get to the finish."

Slovakia's World Cup overall leader Petra Vlhova took silver, at 0.86sec, with the Swiss team nabbing a sixth medal of these champs as Michelle Gisin took bronze, a further three-hundredths adrift.

The gold saw Shiffrin surpass former teammate Vonn to become the most decorated US skier at world championships, having amassed nine medals: six gold (four in slalom, one in super-G in 2019, one in combined in 2021), one silver (giant slalom 2017) and two bronzes (giant slalom in 2019, super-G in 2021).

"I can't wrap my head around it!" Shiffrin said of the record. "It's just a number, and I didn't even know what the number is!"

- Brignone makes quick exit -

Shiffrin had to negotiate 58 turns with a 180-metre vertical drop down the slalom course, run in brilliant sunshine and perfect snow conditions.

But there was high drama as a number of skiers, and potential podium-makers, failed to finish.

First out of the gate for the slalom was Italian Federica Brignone, the quickest in the super-G and carrying the expectations of a host country that has yet to win a medal on home snow.

Brignone, who is currently the active skier to have claimed most World Cup combined wins, with five, lasted only seconds, badly negotiating the third gate and skiing out.

"Only three gates, it's brutal," rued the Italian. "I was never focused or right for the race. It was very tough.

"I'm hugely disappointed. I attacked too much and I made a misjudgment. I thought it would be easier than it was."

Among six competitors who did not finish in the top 15 was double defending champion Wendy Holdener, the Swiss racer also coming a cropper at gate three.

It was a sign of the podium's dominance over the rest of the field that did make it down that fourth-placed Elena Curtoni of Italy finished a whopping 2.35sec off Shiffrin's pace.

Shiffrin, in a warning to her rivals, said her utmost focus and competitive mentality were now turned on to her "big events" of slalom and giant slalom later this week.

"It takes away the pressure, winning a medal," said Shiffrin.

"It's a little bit of relief and the best thing is when you can accomplish it without feeling super stressed by it.

"Today was focused on today," she said. "When I don't have the expectation then I'm just focused on the right things and my skiing tends to be really good."

lp/gj