(Reuters) – New Zealand teenager Alice Robinson stunned overall defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin to win the World Cup opening giant slalom race by a narrow margin in Soelden, Austria, on Saturday.
On a day when New Zealand’s All Blacks were knocked out of the Rugby World Cup by England in the semi-finals, 17-year-old Robinson gave her country something to cheer about after dominating the field on a course she had never skied on before.
Robinson was 0.14 seconds behind American two-times Olympic gold medalist Shiffrin after the first run but finished with a total time of 2:17.36 — a mere 0.06 seconds faster than Shiffrin — to win her first World Cup race.
“I’m pretty shocked but super happy and super excited,” said Robinson, New Zealand’s first World Cup giant-slalom winner.
“I had a feeling I was going to really like this slope, so to be able to pull it off on the day, I’m really excited.
“I was a bit nervous for the second run but I tried to keep myself together, just trying to enjoy it.”
France’s Tessa Worley finished third, 0.36 seconds behind. The next event in the women’s calendar is the slalom on Nov. 23 in Levi, Finland.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)