Valerie Grenier wins World Cup GS; Mikaela Shiffrin finishes 9th

KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia -- Valerie Grenier has made a triumphant return to the resort of her first World Cup victory.

The Canadian skier won a rain-marred giant slalom on Saturday on the same hill in Slovenia where she celebrated her maiden career win a year ago.

"I'm not really sure why it seems to be a really good hill for me, and that last pitch is always one of my best parts," Grenier said. "I'm not really sure why it just seems to be fitting for me, but I will take it."

Fighting a cold for the past week, Mikaela Shiffrin finished in ninth position, nine days after the American won the previous GS in Austria.

"I was just really taken off guard today with how much I felt like my energy was affected. I haven't felt this low energy in a while," Shiffrin said.

Saturday's result was the American's worst in 15 giant slaloms since November 2022 when she was 13th in Killington, Vermont.

"Any race where I don't feel like I ski my best is disappointing," Shiffrin said. "I know that if I do anything less than my best, then I'm not going to be able to win races, I'm not even going to be able to be on the podium."

Looming in fourth, Grenier posted the best time in the second run on a course set by Canadian coach Pierre Miniotti. The three fastest racers from the opening leg all failed to beat her.

"I feel like I have no words. I am just so happy, so proud. It's crazy," Grenier said.

Last year, she was the first Canadian to win a women's World Cup giant slalom in 49 years. She ended the season with another GS podium at the World Cup finals in Soldeu, Andorra.

Grenier, who was the junior world champion in downhill in 2016, has no World Cup podiums in other disciplines.

Lara Gut-Behrami came closest to Grenier, the Swiss skier trailing by 0.37 seconds.

Federica Brignone was 0.51 back in third and the Italian remained in the lead of the GS season standings.

"I feel like I didn't do my best," said Brignone, who won back-to-back giant slaloms in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, in December. "I was missing little things, especially in the second run, I couldn't attack as I wanted."

Petra Vlhova, who edged out Brignone by 0.02 to lead after the first run, dropped to fourth.

Grenier showed her strength in the opening run when she posted the fastest times in two of the four sections of the Podkoren course. However, she lost nearly three-quarters of a second due to a mistake before entering the finish pitch.

"After the first run I was pretty mad at myself for the mistake," said Grenier, adding she told herself before the final run: "Now I wanted to win."

Shiffrin avoided major mistakes in what seemed like a rather conservative first run as the world champion from the United States lost time on then-leader Vlhova at each checkpoint and finished 0.98 off the pace in seventh.

Shiffrin lost more time in the second run, posting only the 22nd best time from the 26 racers who finished.

Aiming for her sixth title this season, Shiffrin still leads the overall standings after winning five races in three different disciplines, though runner-up Brignone closed the gap to 232 points.

"Hopefully this kind of fatigue that I feel today really has more to do with the cold and will continue to improve from here on," Shiffrin said. "I certainly don't want to overdo this schedule over the next couple of weeks and have all of my races suffer because of it."

The lower part of the Podkoren course was softened by persistent rain since Friday afternoon, though organizers managed to keep it just hard enough for the race by putting salt on it several times.

"The slope was really nice, I have to say, even though it's raining and it's really wet. It was OK," said Gut-Behrami, the 2016 overall champion who won the first two giant slaloms of the season.

It was the first race of 2024 for the women, who usually start a new year in Zagreb but the Croatian resort was left off the calendar this season.

A slalom on the same hill is scheduled for Sunday.