Shiffrin finishes 3rd in GS race at Killington

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KILLINGTON, Vt. — During a brief stoppage of the second run at Saturday's FIS Ski World Cup Giant Slalom event at Killington, the television broadcast interviewed American competitor Nina O'Brien.

O'Brien, who was 20th at the time and finished 28th overall, was asked of her advice for U.S. teammate Mikaela Shiffrin ahead of the star's second run.

"Send it," O'Brien said.

Shiffrin did just that, at a mountain she skis better than anyone, and picked up her fifth Killington podium in the process.

"You really had to let it go. There's a lot of speed in this hill," Shiffrin said. "It's not really steep, so you do have to push it, but there is a lot of speed innately in the hill. You have to be fast, clean and safe. It's a little more challenging than you originally think, but that makes it fun."

However, even a near full send from the world's best female skier wasn't quite enough to overcome the Italians.

Shiffrin placed third at the lone GS event in her home country, as the Italian duo of Marta Bassino and Federica Brignone swept the top two spots.

It was Bassino's first World Cup victory, and she did it in 1 minutes, 38.19 seconds. It completed a dominant day for the 23-year-old, who led by 0.23 seconds after the morning run, and held off the field in the afternoon.

"It's a dream come true. It was amazing and I'm so, so happy," said Bassino. "I love Killington, especially for the crowd, because it's amazing that all of this crowd cheers for us. All the screaming, it's really emotional."

Brignone was seventh after the morning, but thanks to the day's fastest individual run (48.81 seconds) in the afternoon, she leapt into the top spot.

Brignone won the GS event at Killington last winter, and faced her stiffest challenge to that point when Shiffrin came ripping down the course to a raucous crowd of 19,500.

Shiffrin's second run of 49.02 landed her total just .03 seconds behind Brignone. Those two survived there until the day's final run, a 49.19 from Bassino that bumped them down and took the day.

"I enjoyed the day, I have to say. I just love racing in front of the crowd here, everybody is so nice and so excited," said Shiffrin. "It's a special atmosphere. I don't feel any extra pressure. I wanted to do some of my best skiing today, and I felt I was much closer to that on my second run."

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While Shiffrin was held up signing autographs on her way to the media center, Brignone was asked about racing against the American star in her home country.

"I don't know how she makes it," responded the 29-year-old Italian. "I'm really impressed, because it's her home country and she can deal with the pressure and she's really, really good at it."

With the final results, Brignone was .26 seconds behind Bassino, with Shiffrin .29 off the leader. The top seven racers all finished within one second of each other.

"It was really a sprint race, a sprint Giant," said Bassino of the course, which was shortened around 9 a.m. due to strong winds at the top of Superstar Race Course. "I just tried to push to the first gate through the last one, because it was really short and after the first race we were all really close to each other."

After the morning race there were 13 skiers within a second of the lead.

O'Brien was the only other American qualifying for the second run. She finished 28th overall in 1:41.39.

Shiffrin said she liked the course and was happier with her second run, staying a bit smoother on the edges.

"I did a better job of that, so I was psyched for it," she said. "Obviously I'll watch the video and see all the things I could've done better.

"My starts could've been a lot better, so we'll figure that out real quick."

How quick?

First run of Slalom is set for 9:45 a.m. today back at Killington.

"I'm fired up for tomorrow," said Shiffrin, who will ski with Bib 3, after only Petra Vlhova and Kristin Lysdahl.

She will look to win her fourth straight Killington slalom title, and expand on her overall World Cup lead. After Saturday's bronze, she holds 240 points, more than 100 in front of Wendy Holdener (128). Brignone (125) and Bassino (122) are now third and fourth, respectively.

Mike Walsh can be reached at mwalsh@berkshireeagle.com, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.


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