New Zealand teen Alice Robinson 'super excited' to win final World Cup giant slalom

New Zealand teenager Alice Robinson believes she has a lot more to give after winning the last World Cup race of the season in Sunday nights giant slalom in Switzerland.
An aggressive second run lifted the 19-year-old ahead of the United States Mikaela Shiffrin to win a giant slalom that ended the Womens World Cup ski season in Lenzerheide.

Robinson who now has three World Cup wins had been fourth-fastest in the opening run, trailing 2018 Olympic champion Shiffrin by 0.77 seconds.

Gabriele Facciotti/AP
New Zealand's Alice Robinson speeds down the course during an alpine ski, women's World Cup giant slalom, in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

But she turned it into a victory of 0.28 seconds. Meta Hrovat placed third, trailing Robinson by 0.48.

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It was the New Zealanders third win in giant slalom on the World Cup circuit.

Robinson made her world cup debut just two seasons ago at the finals in Andorra, finishing in second place as the junior world champion invitee.

Gabriele Facciotti/AP
Robinson celebrates in the finish area during an alpine ski, World Cup women's giant slalom in Slovakia, earlier in March.

She is also the first woman since the 1980s to win three World Cup races before turning 20, matching the mark set by Slovenias Mateja Svet (1986-1988).

I wasnt happy at all with my first run, Robinson told the International Ski Federation, following the race on Sunday night (NZ time).

So I just thought I have to go full gas any give it all my energy in the second run, since it was the last of the season I gave every bit of energy and power that I had.

It [run 2] didnt feel that amazing but in the past my fastest runs have never been the ones that have felt the best. I think when you are actually carrying the most speed you can it feels crazy, and it is hard to control and thats what it felt like.

Marco Trovati/AP
Alice Robinson hugs United States' Mikaela Shiffrin, right, after her winning run.

The New Zealand teen skiing star has had a rapid uphill career path - though the past 12 months have been difficult.

Things are beginning to peak again however last month, Robinson just missed out on a historic medal at the Alpine World Championships in Italy. The Queenstown skier finished fourth in the giant slalom event in Cortina, missing out on bronze by 0.64 seconds in her quest to become the first New Zealander to win an Alpine World Championship medal.

Robinson said her three World Cup wins were super exciting.

I still feel like I have a lot more to give, and I have a long way to go to be consistently winning on the tour and that is my goal going forwards, to bring this kind of skiing to every race. Its not an easy job, but it is something I am working towards.

This years has been tough, especially with Covid. Ive been in Europe for nine months and havent seen any family or been able to go home, its been difficult ,but I feel like Ive learnt a lot this year and learnt how to get back up after having some failures, so I am pretty proud about today.

Shiffrin congratulated Robinson with a good job in the finish area. Shiffrin, who turned 26 last week, had also started winning world cup races as a teenager.

Gabriele Facciotti/AP
Slovakia's Petra Vlhova speeds down the course during an alpine ski.

Marta Bassino, who already secured the season-long giant slalom title, trailed by 1.45 in seventh.

One day after being crowned the overall World Cup champion, Petra Vlhova ended her tiring season with an 11th-place finish.

The first-ever Slovakian champion in the 54-year world cup history started 31 of the 33 races. Her emotionally exhausting Saturday included being congratulated in a telephone call with the president of Slovakia, Zuzana aputov.

Gabriele Facciotti/AP
Robinson, right, greets second placed United States' Mikaela Shiffrin, left, and third placed Slovenia's Meta Hrovat, centre.

Vlhova took the overall title from Federica Brignone, who placed fourth Sunday and talked of a difficult season held with strict travel and health protocols and no fans allowed in finish areas.

Ive had enough of this season. It was really long, it was really not good, a smiling Brignone told Swiss broadcaster RTS citing the lack of atmosphere at races.

Still, Brignone finished with a flourish as only Robinson was faster in the second run.

The first run in the morning was notable for a curious exit by world champion Lara Gut-Behrami, who lost out Saturday to Vlhova in the overall standings.

Gut-Behrami at first seemed to simply stop racing and left broadcasters mystified when she skied out.

The Swiss star, overall World Cup champion in 2016, began to stand up straight approaching the third gate, relaxed her arms and slowly skied back across the hill wide of the next gate.

It was a strange end to her impressive career revival in 2021. Since January, Gut-Behrami won six World Cup races including four straight in super-G plus two gold medals and a bronze at the worlds last month in Cortina dAmpezzo, Italy.

Lara didnt have enough energy to give it all and didnt want to take the risk to get injured and thats the reason why she stopped, Swiss team spokesman Jrme Krieg said in a statement.

There was quick speculation that Gut-Behrami was making a protest against organizers after comments earlier in the week critical of the race week scheduling rules.

The downhill and super-G events where Gut-Behrami is stronger than Vlhova were canceled by difficult weather conditions on Wednesday and Thursday. They could not be moved to Friday when the little-regarded team parallel racing event went ahead without problems.

Krieg said fatigue was the only reason (for stopping). Shes happy about her season, that it is over now and that she is healthy.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Alice Robinson became New Zealands youngest Winter Olympian at the PyeongChang 2018 Games.

Gut-Behrami did not stop to speak with media in the finish area, and was due to return to the course for trophy presentations.

Her latest performance shows Robinson is poised to regularly be among the best in the world, given her incredible success since graduating to senior level.

She won the NZ Alpine National Championship giant slalom and slalom titles aged 15 and was named as NZs youngest Winter Olympian at the start of 2018, eventually finishing 38th out of a field of 86 in the giant slalom at the Games.

Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images
Robinson celebrates her FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Giant Slalom win in Slovenia in 2020.

She became the junior world champion in the giant slalom as a 17-year-old in Val di Fassa, Italy, becoming the No 1-ramked under-18 women's GS skier and then made an indelible mark at elite senior level at the World Cup finals the following month, when she finished runner-up to Mikaela Shiffrin, the US two-time Winter Olympics gold medalist.

Robinson won her first World Cup race in only her 11th start, edging Shiffrin to win the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, in October 2019 and then three days after winning the emerging talent award at the Halberg Awards, she won her second event on the World Cup giant slalom circuit in northwestern Slovenia yesterday, finishing ahead of Slovakia's Petra Vlhova as an 18-year-old last February.

Additional reporting by AP


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