(Mont-Tremblant) No one left disappointed from the Mont-Tremblant World Cup, which ended in a storm on Sunday afternoon.
Certainly not Federica Brignone, who served a lesson in bravery and daring to achieve a double in giant slalom in the Laurentides resort, which hosted the Cirque blanc for the first time in 40 years.
Neither Lara Gut-Behrami nor Mikaela Shiffrin, respectively second and third despite unfavorable weather conditions for the last starters, who had to face powerful gusts and large wet snowflakes which reduced visibility.
Even less Valérie Grenier, who overcame a major error in the first round (11th) to sneak up to sixth position after a flawless restart.
Relieved after her disappointment the day before, when she had placed eighth, the local heroine put her hands on her heart to express her gratitude to the thousands of spectators who once again filled Place Saint-Bernard, the heart of the colorful pedestrian village.
“It’s so nice to see everyone who is here today,” Grenier explained afterwards. I can’t believe so many people came to see us! I know they’re cheering for us Canadians, it’s so heartwarming. I want them to know that we are extremely grateful. A crowd like that is what makes a race fun, what makes you enjoy it. If there’s no one down, it’s boring, it’s not a real World Cup. »
“It was incredible, there were a lot of people, you encouraged everyone, we felt the atmosphere, it was really, really cool! “, praised the Italian into the microphone handed to her by her friend Marie-Michèle Gagnon, a former runner who entertained the public with her analyzes and anecdotes about skiers she worked closely with until the winter last.
Leader after the first round on Saturday, Brignone this time had to come from behind and take more risks to climb to the top of the podium for the second consecutive day, a first for the woman who now has 23 in 309 starts .
“I hope I have time to make it tonight because it’s really beautiful! “, exclaimed the woman whose record also includes three Olympic medals and two at the Worlds.
Sixth at the end of the initial round, Brignone was 1.22 seconds behind the leader, the Slovakian Petra Vlhová, second on Saturday. With the snow and wind, she chose to risk everything in the hope of getting on the box.
“What I’ve done is incredible. I have tried everything. In the second round, I said to myself: “I’m going to go all in”, because I had too much of a gap. But I also knew that in these conditions, if you make a difference, you really make a difference. »
In fact, Brignone achieved the descent of the weekend by pushing all her rivals back by more than a second. Like the day before, the Snow Tigress whined when she saw her name appear at the top of the table.
“I’ve been training in conditions like this for a month: snow, wind, shit, really,” she revealed. I was very courageous and I made a difference. That’s wonderful. I am very emotional, very happy, really proud. »
Generous, the 33-year-old athlete stopped a good quarter of an hour after the first round to sign autographs and have her photo taken. His fan club has grown in a province with which a love story “was born, totally”. Brignone, however, warned Gagnon: no dance moves on the podium this time. “Because yesterday I almost broke my trophy! »
After the awards ceremony, Brignone rushed to the Montreal airport for an evening flight. In 2:11.95, she beat Gut-Behrami by 0.33. Winner of the first two giants of the season, the 32-year-old Swiss maintains a slim priority of five points over the Italian in the discipline rankings.
Penultimate to start, Shiffrin ( 0.39 s) was equal to herself, skiing with her typical fluidity despite the bad weather, propelling herself onto the third step of the podium, a place she retained after the passage of Vlhová, fifth in the end.
The American with 143 podiums congratulated herself on having kept her fighting spirit, even when the wind was blowing in her face and the doors almost pinched her.
“I did the best I could in the conditions, hoping mine weren’t that bad,” Shiffrin said. Sometimes it’s a matter of luck; that’s how it is in this sport. But today the surface was so much better than the day before. You could trust that your skis would bite and you could always feel like you were making good turns. Visibility was poor, but I felt like I could still ski the way I wanted. »
Shiffrin increased her lead in the overall World Cup standings. She has a 79-point lead over Vlhová in the race for the great crystal globe, which she has won five times. After the ceremony, the winningest skier in history also willingly took part in a long signing session.
For her part, Valérie Grenier found a smile again after a frustrating first round. A bad trajectory at an awkward gate caused her to lose several tenths, she who was second in the second intermediate time trial. This mistake probably prevented her from getting on the podium for the third time in her career.
The departure of the Canadian and the Frenchwoman Clara Direz, brilliant fourth, was postponed by a few minutes, time to repair a door which had been knocked down by a gust. Grenier did not let himself be bothered, clocking the third time in the final round, behind Brignone and Direz.
“The snow wasn’t that bad. It was more the wind that brought the snow up. There, we didn’t see much. There were one or two doors where I couldn’t see the next one, but for the rest it was OK. It was like a wild ride! I was like, “Wow, this is crazy!” But it was fun, I think. I thought it was funny! »
She had nothing but praise for what she called “very good skiing.” “It felt more like me. I didn’t make any big mistakes, nothing. I am very happy with my second descent. It’s just a shame about the first one. Because of my big mistake, it was difficult to get on the podium. I did what I could. »
Now sixth overall in the discipline, one rank better than the day before, Valérie Grenier admitted to having let herself be overcome by the emotions of playing for the first time in front of her team in the World Cup.
“I’m still proud. It wasn’t easy to run a race home. It’s amazing, but it’s a little more pressure. It was just from me. We want to do well in front of the people we love. »
The day ended with a predictable announcement, but nevertheless welcomed with joy: the International Ski Federation has given the green light for another World Cup in Tremblant in 2024. No one left disappointed, and no doubt that the majority will return next year.