Skiing: Alice Robinson narrowly misses out on Alpine World Championship medal

Queenstown skier Alice Robinson has just missed out on becoming the first New Zealander in history to win an Alpine World Championship medal.

The 19-year-old has finished fourth in the Giant Slalom at the World Championships in Cortina in Italy.

“It hasn’t been an easy season for me, and I wanted to give it my all today,” Robinson said. “Sometimes when you are pushing it you make some mistakes and that’s what I had in the second run, but I am pretty proud of going out there and full attacking as much as I could.”

Sixth after the first run, Robinson shot into the lead with four skiers remaining after clocking 1:17.66. But Austrian Katharina Liensberger clocked the fastest time in the second run to claim bronze and edge the Kiwi out of the medals.

Switzerland’s Lara Gut Behrami won gold to go with her Super G gold last week and bronze in the Downhill, edging out American star Mikaela Shiffrin who claimed her 10th World Championship medal in her career.

Robinson’s combined time over the two runs was just 0.73 seconds behind Gut-Behrami who edged Shiffrin by 0.02 seconds and Liensberger by 0.09.

But the young Kiwi felt a couple of mistakes on her second run cost her a medal.

“I wanted to fully attack and that’s what I did but I lost quite a bit of time down the bottom of the second run from looking watching back and I still have a lot of room to get better, but I am proud of the mentality I had today,” Robinson said.

Her Kiwi co-coach Chris Knight remained pleased with Robinson’s progress as they prepare for the Olympic Games.

“It’s been a battle but we slowly closed the gap in the last few weeks and it wasn’t quite enough in the second run, a bit scrappy. But we just have to keep battling away and we will be in good shape come next world champs and Olympics,” Knight said.

“19 years old, not a lot of experience and really shining at the top level of this sport. It really is an incredible effort when you think about NZ as a skiing nation in this alpine part of the world, dominating and punching way about our weight with limited resources.”

Earlier Robinson started from 13th in her first run and scorched down the upper section of the course clocking 1:13.73 which was just 0.51 seconds slower than Shiffrin, the Olympic champion who topped the standings with a time of 1:13.22.

Her compatriot Nina O’Brien was a shock second fastest in the first run starting from bib 19, just 0.02 seconds off the pace while World Cup leader Marta Bassino who had won four of the six World Cup Giant Slaloms so far this season, couldn’t replicate that stunning form, clocking the 15th fastest time.

Bassino couldn’t close the gap on the second run and finished 13th just behind reigning world champion Petra Vlhova in 12th.

Robinson’s form heading into the World Championships pointed to the possibility of a big result at Cortina. While she had struggled to back up her incredible success of last season where she won two of the six completed World Cup races after finishing second in the previous World Cup final, there were some encouraging signs.

Two ninth-placed finishes have been her best results on the World Cup circuit but in the second three weeks ago at Kronplatz in Italy Robinson was just 1:52 seconds slower than the winner, Frenchwoman Tessa Worley.

She had spent time training with Shiffrin in recent weeks and in the last few days Worley, and Robinson was quicker in their training runs.

The young Kiwi had pulled out of the Alpine Combined and Super G last week to focus on the GS and although fourth is not the result she wanted it will give her plenty of encouragement for a big finish to the season.

While Robinson’s hopes of winning the overall World Cup title for GS will have to wait, she sits 16th in the standings with two races remaining before the World Cup Finals, still a teenager she looms as a strong medal prospect at the Beijing Winter Olympics in 12 months’ time with all of her rivals at least five years older than her.

The other Kiwi in the field Piera Hudson, failed to finish the first run and recorded a DNF.

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