Slick Shiffrin storms giant slalom in France
American Mikaela Shiffrin stormed to a convincing victory in the World Cup giant slalom event in Courchevel on Tuesday, finishing almost a full second ahead of her key Olympic rival, France's two-time world champion Tessa Worley.
"My biggest goal with my skiing is to ski my best and push the limits of the sport," said Shiffrin.
"I was pushing my limits and I'm really proud of that. I was aggressive and proud today."
In front of raucous home support, Worley laid down the fastest second run after finishing in eighth place in the first of two legs.
It looked like the Frenchwoman, who has an Australian father, might have done enough for a surprise victory as six higher-ranked racers all finished slower down the Emile Allais course in the French Alps.
But then came the turn of 22-year-old Shiffrin, the three-time world champion and 2014 Olympic slalom gold medallist.
And she made no mistake, setting off with a massive 1.42-second lead over Worley and clocking 1 minute, 01.10 seconds for a combined total of 2:02.40.
Despite a slight error in the bottom third, Shiffrin's winning margin was 0.99 seconds over Worley, world giant slalom gold medalist in 2017 and 2013.
It was Shiffrin's 34th victory on the World Cup circuit in her short career, and fifth in the giant slalom.
The American skipped Val d'Isere last weekend, preferring instead to rest up in Norway.
"There were snowstorms everywhere in Europe," she said of the choice to go north.
"It was really good and actually very nice to get away from everything a bit.
"I found out I was actually really tired, so it was exactly what I needed.
"I came here and was ready to be aggressive."
Worley added: "On the top section of the second run I didn't feel really good, but I knew I could change and attack most importantly the last part.
"I'm really happy I did it because it was quite bumpy and dark and that's what made the difference.
"Everything has happened today like I wanted it to."
Italy's Manuela Moelgg, 34, was third, 0.02 adrift with Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinckel a mere 0.01 behind in fourth as the rivals start to measure up for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February.
Shiffrin's US teammate Lindsey Vonn, winner of a super-G in Val d'Isere on the weekend but absent here after pinging her knee, was obviously following the race from the United States.
"Congrats @MikaelaShiffrin and impressive 2nd run @TessaWorley. Manu keeping it real for the old ladies," Vonn tweeted alongside icons of hands raised in celebration and a flexed bicep.
Hopes for a US medal rush at the Olympics were played down by Shiffrin, who has this season already won in the slalom, giant slalom and downhill disciplines.
"The Olympics, well I treat them like it's just another World Cup race," she said.
"Right now, it's just a really cool opportunity.
"If people think I can win a couple of medals that's a compliment, not pressure. I take it as an opportunity, not pressure."
Shiffrin, in an understated warning shot at rivals, added: "It's been an incredible season and looking back on my performances in Lake Louise and Killington, these races were amazing for me.
"Each stop I've been getting a good mentality. It's just a question of keeping that momentum going."