Amidst the tumultuous dance of snowflakes and the biting kiss of the winds at Mont-Tremblant, Federica Brignone, a seasoned warrior of wintersports, confronted more than just her adversaries on that unforgiving Sunday. The 33-year-old Italian, whose soul is intertwined with the alpine, dared to defy the worsening weather, commanding the slopes as the snow mounted its siege, a relentless adversary, layer by treacherous layer.
With her sights set on glory, Brignone, whose prowess had already been etched thrice in Olympic bronze, conquered the first challenge but found herself adrift in sixth place. Undeterred, her spirit unyielding, she embraced the second run, slicing through the blizzard’s fury in a breathtaking one minute and 4.27 seconds — the fastest the weekend had witnessed. Her triumphant conclusion atop the podium was not merely a victory; it was a testament to tenacity, a symphony written on the snow.
“It’s incredible,” a visibly moved Brignone admitted, the victory washing over her in waves of joy. “That second run saw me discard all restraint; I bore a sizeable gap, yet I knew — in these conditions, to distinguish oneself is to rule outright. I pushed to the edge, gallant and fierce, and therein lay the magic. To emerge victorious, overwhelmed with emotion, pride filling the heart… it’s a sensation beyond compare.”
History would remember her as the oldest giant slalom victor in World Cup annals come Saturday. By Sunday’s end, with a collective time of 2:11.95, she had secured a weekend sweep, an encore etched in gold. “I’ve never before savored such triumph,” she reflected. “Tonight, I yearn for the quiet, to truly comprehend this moment — it’s extraordinarily special.”
In pursuit, Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami, the early-season dominator with two GS crowns, settled for silver glory with a time of 2:12.28. Meanwhile, Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States, a double Olympic titan and hungering for a 91st World Cup win to swell her record, was content with bronze for a second consecutive day (2:12.34). Her overall World Cup lead burgeoned over Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, who, despite a promising start, succumbed to the fifth position under Sunday’s tempestuous skies.
The weather itself seemed to conspire against them as it hovered at the freezing mark, a leaden sky giving way to a cascade of snow before the critical second leg.
Shifrin confessed a preference for the sun’s warmth over the turbid whiteness, but amidst the storm’s chaos — the gates flailing like specters in a ghostly waltz, robbing her of sight and certainty — she championed resolutely. “Amidst the tempest, the fight is all. Skating the brink of fine skiing is the gamble, and I dare say, I ventured it well.”
Valerie Grenier, the local heroine from St. Isidore with roots deep in Mont-Tremblant soil, stood eleventh post-error in the initial surge, but rallied impressively, recording the third-best second run to rank as Canada’s swiftest. The wild escapade she likened to “crazy fun,” even as mischievous gusts wiped the snow into a blinding curtain.
While Saturday’s eighth-place finish left her yearning for what could have been, Grenier looked back with a sense of pride, poignantly observing that while mistakes are part of the game, so too are the lessons they impart. The fervent support of the home crowd, she noted, rendered each race an effervescent spectacle of communal triumph — the true spirit of the sport made manifest.
More than 15,000 eyes bore witness to the weekend’s athletic theatrics, a testament to the sport’s magnetic allure and the community’s vibrant heart.
Cassidy Gray of Panorama, B.C. penetrated the prestigious top 30 for a successive race, her first time since March 2021, infusing her season with confidence and a thirst for future conquests. Conversely, Justine Clément and Justine Lamontagne, both Quebec natives, fell short of advancing past the cut, while their compatriots Sarah Bennett and Britt Richardson saw their efforts end without completion.
The frosty grandeur of Mont-Tremblant, silent since 1983 to the World Cup alpine call, resonated once more with the symphony of competition. For every athlete, the Alpine promised a share of 144,000 Swiss francs, roughly $220,000, in prize money, a generous bounty for those brave enough to claim it, with 47,000 Swiss francs anointing the champion.
As the snow settled and the skiers departed, their silhouettes etched into the fabric of Mont-Tremblant’s storied past, the echoes of their victories and struggles lingered, a reminder of the passion and endurance that define the very essence of World Cup alpine skiing.