Amidst the frosty caress of a capricious Mother Nature, whispers of excitement filtered through the pine-clad slopes of Mont-Tremblant as Italy’s Federica Brignone adorned herself with gold once more. The air was electric, the sky overcast, and as the snow began its relentless descent, it was here, on this challenging Sunday, that champions would rise.

Federica Brignone—a name that flowed like molten gold down the giant slalom course—proved untouchable. With the wisdom of a three-time Olympic medallist and the vigour of a relentless spirit, she turned her sixth-place performance in the initial run to a spectacular gold with a blistering second run, clocking in at one minute and 4.27 seconds.

“It’s incredible,” Brignone declared, with the shimmer of victory in her eyes and the weight of her achievement buoying her. “I knew I had a significant gap to bridge, but in these conditions, a brave heart can carve its destiny. I was courageous—I dared to the edge of my limits.”

Her triumph was not merely a win; it was the etching of her name into the annals of history as the oldest giant slalom victor in World Cup annals. With a total time of 2:11.95, she swept the weekend’s honours. “I’ve never experienced a moment quite like this,” she reflected, “to achieve such a feat, it’s really quite special.”

Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami, the heroine of the season’s initial two GS events, graced the podium in silver (2:12.28). Meanwhile, the United States’ Mikaela Shiffrin, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, clinched bronze (2:12.34), safeguarding her overall World Cup lead, outpacing Slovakian Petra Vlhova, who settled for fifth after blazing through initially under kinder skies.

In a symphony of whirling winds and cascading snow, resilience became the watchword. Shifrin, shifting from second to third, remained positive despite preferring “when it’s sunny,” she declared through her characteristic smile. “In these moments, you fight against the elements, strive not to relent, and I gave it my best.”

Canada’s own Valérie Grenier, with roots deeply embedded in the soil of St. Isidore and the community of Mont-Tremblant, vaulted from eleventh to a gratifying sixth, marked by the third-best run of the event. “The wind was the artist today, sweeping up a canvas of snow imperceptible to our sight,” she remarked, recalling the wild gusts that tested every skier’s mettle.

Though Grenier soberly acknowledged a missed podium opportunity, she couldn’t help but feel the embrace of the local crowd’s fervent support. Over 15,000 souls bore witness to the spectacle, their passion and enthusiasm amplifying the thrill of every race.

The efforts of Quebecers Justine Clément and Justine Lamontagne, though valiant, saw them adrift of qualification. Still, there emerged a beacon of hope for Cassidy Gray of Panorama, B.C., whose 24th place was her finest showing since early 2021. “It instils me with confidence, and a resolve to reach even higher,” Gray mused with a twinkle that mirrored the crisp glint off the snowy banks.

Marking the hill’s first World Cup alpine rendezvous since 1983, Mont-Tremblant was transmuted into an amphitheatre of dreams and drama, offering a generous purse of 144,000 Swiss francs, a fortune that cherishes the brave and emboldens the victors in a dance of athleticism and ambition.

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John Crew
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