MARIBOR – Tessa Worley of France started off her new year back on the top step of the GS podium and maintaining the discipline standings lead with a blistering second run in Maribor, Slovenia. After a first run where everyone had to make adjustments to rhythm changes on course, Mikaela Shiffrin held a slim 0.07-second lead over Sofia Goggia. Worley was lurking in third, at 0.20 seconds off the lead pace.
“The course is great. The surface is really nice to ski on. I was attacking. I made a bit of a mistake, but it seems everybody had a bobble somewhere in the course. So it’ll be a good fight second run,” Shiffrin said between runs. “I felt I was attacking pretty hard, so just trying to continue with that mentality and maybe bring a little bit more smart skiing into the middle section but keep that aggression.”
But Worley fired up the jets harder than her competition and crossed the finish line with a solid green light. Then she waited as Goggia and Shiffrin each took their turns, but neither could pass her blazing final split.
“It’s intense, but it’s awesome because it’s only in skiing that you can feel this feeling,” said Worley. “I was so happy at the end to see that I was winning. It’s a great fight and I’m really happy that all the girls are wanting to win every race and making it so hard. I’m happy because it pushes me to get to my best level.”
Shiffrin ultimately finished fourth as Swiss Lara Gut edged her out for the final podium position in third.
“It’s always cool to be on the podium. I had a little bit too many mistakes in the first run, so I can be not really happy, but the podium is always great. So take that and keep on working and hopefully – soon – I will get the feeling of winning again back,” said Gut. “It was really straight. It was just the way to go to the race. To me, it’s an easy course. It’s an easy slope. So you’ve seen in the first run, with two seconds you are top 30, no more. You have to push, and I think you also have to risk.”
After four DNFs in a row in past races, Goggia seemed once again poised for a shot at her career first victory, but the champagne will have to wait for another day. Still, the Italian had reason to celebrate.
“I’m pretty happy with today’s podium actually because it is an important race because it is the last one of Tina Maze, which was my idol in past years. So I was really touched and excited for that. I thought after the first run I was going to win, but still it’s OK like that,” Goggia said. “I was crying like a baby, and … it’s [been] some years since I [was] crying for someone with emotion like this. I was really touched in my heart because it was really something important to me.”
Maze said her farewell to the World Cup circuit with a hard charge out of the start in the first run, but she pulled up after the first intermediate time to greet her partner Andrea Massi and former coach Valerio Ghirardi. Stopping just before the finish line and crossing it on foot, she officially recorded a DNF but spent a considerable amount of time thanking fans for their support over the course of her World Cup career which spanned 18 years after beginning in Maribor on Jan. 2, 1999. The venue was also the site of her first podium, notched in the GS race in 2002.
“When I came to the World Cup she was already one of the best, and she’s been helping me so much. So thanks, Tina, for everything you did for me, for all the other athletes, and for the sport,” Gut announced to the crowd.
The ladies FIS slalom race will take place on Sunday in Maribor, Slovenia, with first run scheduled at 9:15 and second run at 12:15 CET.