Alpine Skiing

17-year-old Alice Robinson stuns Mikaela Shiffrin in Soelden season opener

New Zealand rising star Alice Robinson claimed the Alpine Skiing World Cup 2019/20 Giant Slalom season opener in Soelden, Austria upsetting Mikaela Shiffrin

By Ken Browne ·

Alice Robinson stunned double Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin in Soelden, winning the opening Giant Slalom of the Women's World Cup tour.

Robinson claimed her first ever World Cup victory by .06 of a second over the USA star who finished second.

France's Tessa Worley came in third +36s behind the Kiwi's winning time of 2:17.36.

What a start to the alpine skiing season for the 17-year-old Kiwi sensation, who claimed victory on a course she'd never raced on before.

Robinson showed nerves of steel after a big accident paused the racing for nearly 15 minutes, Austria's Bernadette Schild helicoptered from the course after a serious fall.

I'm pretty shocked, but super happy, super excited! I was a bit nervous for the second run. I just tried to hold it together and tried to enjoy it.

- Alice Robinson

Shiffrin said that she's excited to watch the talented Robinson's rise:

"It's super cool and really exciting. She skied really solid so it's awesome."

- Mikaela Shiffrin

Helicopter rescue called in for Bernadette Schild

The racing was overshadowed by a nasty injury to Austria's Bernadette Schild who was airlifted from the piste after a crash that had her teammates wincing.

Schild popped out of a turn with her body at an obtuse angle, before crashing through the barriers off the side of the course.

She was evacuated by helicoptered to receive immediate medical attention.

Racing was put on hold before leaders Shiffrin and Robinson resumed their battle for top of the podium.

In the second run most of the competitors struggled with the sun warming the course, most couldn't adjust, including one of the favourites, Petra Vlhova.

The Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games champion finished way down the field and for a while it looked like 25-year-old Norwegian Maria Therese Tviberg might spring a major surprise.

Tessa Worley took charge with just a few skiers left to come until Robinson stayed cool as ice to record a historic victory in Austria that promises much for the future.

Alice Robinson on the rise

After the retirement of Olympic champions Marcel Hirscher, Lindsey Vonn and Aksel Lund Svindal, the world of ski is looking for new blood and rising stars.

Enter Alice Robinson.

Robinson has already been to an Olympic Games, representing New Zealand at PyeongChang 2018, but last season saw her make a stunning breakthrough.

Just a month after winning giant slalom gold at the World Junior Championships, Robinson finished second behind Mikaela Shiffrin in the last World Cup giant slalom of the season in Soldeu, Andorra. This is just her second full World Cup campaign.

Now working with two of Lindsey Vonn's former coaches, the lightning fast New Zealander made a spectacular opening statement, putting down a furious first run, just 0.14s behind Shiffrin.

Highlights of Robinson's Run 1:


Olympic Channel caught up with Robinson just before the start of the season, the skiing young gun can't celebrate too much as she has to get straight back on a plane tomorrow, Sunday, to New Zealand to finish High School.

When we asked her how she juggles school and elite skiing she said:

"Whenever someone asks me that I actually have no idea how I've managed to do it. It's a bit of a miracle."

"It's a bit of a miracle." - Alice Robinson

Robinson will return a hero, having conquered her first ever World Cup, and says her school has been very understanding:

"My school has been really good and really lenient with me, which has been super nice. So I never really had strict deadlines of handing something in, because I prefer to do things like one thing at a time."

"So when I'm skiing, I'm fully focused on skiing. And then when I'm doing school, I'm really into it and will just bang it out. So that's kind of what I try to do. That's kind of how I managed it."

Don't be surprised if this breakout star spends her High School graduation on skiis.

Mikaela Shiffrin - Run 1

Run 1 saw a strong start from defending champion Tessa Worley who went 1:09.13, the Frenchwoman setting the bar high.

But Shiffrin went right after her, looking in devastating form already and going 1.24 seconds faster than Worley.

An awe-inspiring start from the American.

Can Shiffrin 2019/20 compete with Shiffrin 2018/19?

Two golds at the World Championships in Are, 17 World Cup wins from 26 races, a third consecutive World Cup overall title and three discipline globes including first giant slalom and Super-G crowns.

Can Shiffrin top that this season?

The early signs say: she has tough competition.

A convincing win after a remarkable performance in her maiden outing in Austria puts Shiffrin on course for another historic season.

Shiffrin already has 60 career World Cup wins to her name, including a women's record 40 slalom triumphs, and should overtake Proell (62) and Hirscher (67) this season.

With over 40 events on the calendar, she is very likely to close in on Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark's all-time record of 86.

Tina Maze's season points record is also in her sights: last year Shiffrin scored 2,184 points, not too far away from the Slovenian's total of 2,414 from 2013.

Robinson's meteoric rise continues

Following the retirement of Olympic champions Marcel Hirscher, Lindsey Vonn and Aksel Lund Svindal, it was all eyes on Shiffrin who is chasing her fourth consecutive World Cup overall title.

"It's really sad to see some of these stars leaving the sport," Shiffrin told Olympic Channel.

"There's just a new generation now. You see girls like [Sofia] Goggia, Wendy Holdener, Petra [Vlhova]. There's amazing personalities on the men's side as well. I don't think there's more spotlight on me," the 24-year-old added.

It looks like another star on a meteoric rise, Alice Robinson, will get some of Shiffrin's attention this term.