A fatal mistake cost Mikaela Shiffrin a victory today at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Squaw Valley ski resort in Lake Tahoe.
A world champion skier, Shiffrin was in position to lock up a third straight U.S. slalom title when she straddled a gate on the tight middle section of the Squaw Valley’s Olympic slope.
The mistake wound up giving the gold medal to Canadian and Westminster College student Anna Goodman. Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) captured silver with Norwegian Tonje Sekse, also a Westminster athlete, in bronze.
A Vail skier, Shiffrin held a 1.22 second lead after the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships slalom opening run, but straddled in the tight middle section of the final and went out.
“I just caught a little bit of a weird groove and pressured on the wrong spot and my ski went on the other side,” Shiffrin said. “It happens. I thought the conditions held up great, especially for how warm it is and the sun is hitting the hill basically all day. It was really good. Everybody’s going for it out there and there’s some really good skiing. It’s a great competition and a great way to end the season.”
Shiffrin, 18, produced a historic sophomore Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season with four slalom victories and the season-long title. She was the fourth youngest in history to win the title.
“I think it’s most important that I just try to connect with the younger kids here,” Shiffrin said. “Most of them say they watch the World Cup races, so I think they’ve seen the skiing and it’s probably cool to see it live. But I think the most important thing is that I get to have some time face-to-face with them and show them I’m not actually that different and that I’m a goofball. We can have conversations and they can get to this point.”
Goodman had the fastest second run time at Squaw. She recently won the 2013 NorAm slalom title.
“Second run I just tried to really go for it, especially at the bottom because on the first run I felt like that’s where I lost a lot of time,” Goodman said. “So I just went as hard as I could and survived basically. I knew that I should be top three. I was hoping Mikaela would finish so that we could have a race just against each other but maybe next year.”
The race capped a successful U.S. Championships week that drew record numbers of fans to Squaw Valley, where the 1960 Olympics were held.
“U.S. Championships are an opportunity to bring together the best athletes from our USSA clubs across the country,” said Bill Marolt, President and CEO, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. “Squaw Valley provided an amazing experience for our athletes with well prepared courses, huge crowds and the enthusiasm of hundreds of young ski racers who turned out to see their heroes. It’s encouraging to see how important ski racing is to the fabric of the Squaw Valley community.”