St-Germain surprises Shiffrin with slalom gold for Canada

February 18, 2023 GMT
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Canada's Laurence St-Germain gets to the finish area after completing the women's World Championship slalom, in Meribel, France, Saturday Feb. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)
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Canada's Laurence St-Germain gets to the finish area after completing the women's World Championship slalom, in Meribel, France, Saturday Feb. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)

MERIBEL, France (AP) — Canadian skier Laurence St-Germain isn’t used to winning big races. Or even getting to the podium for that matter.

That’s why she had no idea what to do while leading the slalom at the world championships on Saturday with only Mikaela Shiffrin still to come down.

“Honestly, I haven’t really looked at her run. I just was getting ready, it was my first podium and I didn’t really know where to go and what to do,” St-Germain said.

She maybe didn’t see it, but she soon had it confirmed: Shiffrin couldn’t hold her first-run lead and finished 0.57 seconds behind St-Germain to end up with the silver medal.

Lena Duerr of Germany finished 0.69 behind for bronze.

“You dream of it, you want it, and in training I knew I could do well. But I did not expect this,” St-Germain said. “I attacked, had a bit of a mistake, just thinking, ‘Go down, go down, go down,’ and it worked out.”

St-Germain’s victory marked the first gold for Canada in women’s slalom since Anne Heggtveit won at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, which also counted as the world championships. Also, it was the first world title for a Canadian woman in any discipline since 2003 when Melanie Turgeon won the downhill.

St-Germain comes from the same small village in Quebec, Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, as two-time cross-country world champion Alex Harvey, and grew up racing with the same ski club that Turgeon came out of at Monte-Sainte-Anne.

St-Germain’s previous best result at a major championship was sixth in the slalom at the 2019 worlds. Sixth was also her best finish in a World Cup slalom, in Levi, Finland, in 2020.

Her gold raised Canada’s medal tally to four, after James Crawford won the men’s super-G, followed by bronze medals in the men’s downhill for Cameron Alexander and in the team event.

“It’s been really good for Canada. I don’t think we can say we are underdogs anymore,” St-Germain said. “I’m really glad I could contribute.”

Bronze medallist Duerr called it “special” to see a first-time winner taking the gold.

“This is how world champs should be. She had two perfect runs. So, good job,” the German said.

Shiffrin, also, was full of praise for St-Germain.

“I hope everybody is able to give her the spotlight that she deserves; her own title, her own everything,” Shiffrin said. “It’s such an unbelievable performance and (she and the Canadian team) deserve it.”

Shiffrin positioned herself for a fifth slalom world title by posting the fastest first-run time but fell behind toward the end of her second run.

“Everybody is tired and it’s the end of a long push. I was so happy with my first run and really happy with a lot of sections on the second run,” Shiffrin said. “Here and there I backed it off a little bit and then it’s not enough for gold.”

St-Germain was third after the opening run, 0.61 behind Shiffrin, before overtaking the American in the final run. Swiss skier Wendy Holdener, who was second going into the final run, straddled a gate and did not finish.

Olympic slalom champion Petra Vlhova of Slovakia was 0.85 behind in fifth and defending world champion Katharina Liensberger of Austria finished 1.90 off the pace in 20th.

American skier Paula Moltzan missed the race after breaking her left hand in Tuesday’s team event, which the United States won. Moltzan was runner-up to Shiffrin in a race in Austria in December for the first American 1-2 finish in a women’s slalom since 1971.

Shiffrin resumes World Cup skiing in March. She’s posted 11 wins on the World Cup circuit this season to take her overall tally to 85 — breaking Lindsey Vonn’s women’s record of 82 and moving within one of the overall mark set by Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and 80s.

Saturday’s race was the last women’s event of the worlds. The championships close with the men’s slalom on Sunday.


Willemsen contributed from Vienna.


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