Mayer Flies to Victory in Men’s Downhill, Gisin Takes Women’s Slalom, Shiffrin Closes Out Rollercoaster 2020 on Podium

Eight years ago this week, Michelle Gisin made her slalom World Cup debut in Semmering. On Tuesday, she took the top of the podium.

Michelle Gisin
Technical specialist Michelle Gisin snapped an almost two-decade World Cup drought for the Swiss women, topping the podium in the women’s alpine World Cup slalom under the lights in Semmering, Austria. (Image: Getty)

In a long-anticipated end to an almost two-decade drought, Gisin became the first Swiss woman to earn a slalom World Cup victory in 19 years after finishing ahead of Katharina Liensberger (AUT) by 0.11 seconds.

After a year of tragedy, injury, and uncertainty, American Mikaela Shiffrin capped her emotional return to racing with a first-run lead of .02 seconds. But, it was the Swiss skier’s day as Gisin skied slightly faster and more technically sound in run number two under the floodlights in Semmering.

The win propelled Gisin into second place in the overall World Cup standings in the season that’s just getting underway. The current leader, Slovakian Petra Vlhová, finished just off the podium in fourth.

The women’s World Cup now gives its racers a quick breather before moving on to Zagreb, Croatia, for the fabled Snow Queen ski race to kick off the new year starting on Sunday. Both the men’s and women’s slalom races will take place on the Medvednica mountaintop Sljeme, just north of Zagrebafter.

On the men’s speed side, Austrian Matthias Mayer held on for the victory in Wednesday’s World Cup downhill in Bormio in the season’s closest race.

One-Two Austrian Punch in Bormio Downhill

It was Austria one-two as the 30-year-old Mayer finished ahead of teammate Vincent Kriechmayr by just .04 seconds. In third place, only 0.06 off the winning pace, was Swiss speed specialist Urs Kryenbühl.

Bormio’s downhill course is a brutal one, and at least five racers didn’t make it to the bottom two thirds after the top two turns proved too technical to navigate at speed. All of the DNF racers were uninjured and able to make it off the course on their own.

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For Mayer, who got his first win of the season and his sixth career downhill victory, the course’s difficultly was the real story of the day.

“It was a very challenging race today and a very close one,” Mayer said in the post-race interview. “From start to finish, you had to give it everything. You can’t say that this curve was better or that curve made the difference. When the race is so close, anyone can win.”

Dominik Paris Looks Fully Recovered from ACL Tear Earlier this Year

Italian Dominik Paris, who considers Bormio’s challenging Stelvio piste his home mountain, led at the halfway mark of his second run, but lost speed at the bottom finishing in the red 0.13 seconds behind Mayer in fourth place. Nonetheless, World Cup veteran Paris was happy with his performance as he’s entering the new year skiing strong after an ACL injury suffered in February is looking fully healed.

The alpine speed skiers will have a two-week break until they’re back mid-month for the Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen. Until then, the tech racers will be in the spotlight with stops in Zagreb and Adelboden.

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