Mikaela Shiffrin ties Lindsey Vonn for most career World Cup podiums
Edwards skier placed third in final slalom of the season
Mikaela Shiffrin didn’t get the win in Saturday’s World Cup Finals slalom in Soldeu, Andorra, but she tied another all-time record.
The Edwards skier tied Lindsey Vonn for the most women’s Alpine ski World Cup podiums (137) with a third-place finish, finishing 0.86-seconds behind winner Petra Vlhova. Lena Popovic of Croatia placed second.
“Every single race I feel the weight of having to be one of the best in the world no matter what the day is,” Shiffrin told U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
“(It) is actually quite a privilege but some days it’s quite heavy. But today it didn’t feel heavy. It just felt like a really good opportunity.”
Falling flakes on top of spring-like conditions made for poor visibility and brought out the snow snakes as athletes either slowed considerably on the 210-meter Avet course or skied out altogether.
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After run No. 1, Shiffrin — who has won six of the 10 slaloms this year and finished second in three others — sat in fourth, 0.59-seconds behind leader Petra Vlhova. Croatian Leona Popovic was 0.32-seconds back in second and Sweden’s Anna Swenn-Larrson remained in third, just a few hundredths ahead of the American. It was the first time all year Shiffrin was outside of the top three after the first run.
Paula Moltzan, who was sixth after the first run, skied aggressively in her second, ignoring the conditions. She was in the lead at the top but skipped over a rise midway through the slope and nearly skied out. With six DNF’s across the final 30 athletes — and a couple happening within the first three turns — Moltzan’s ability to simply cross the finish-line secured a top-20 result, as she finished in 16th.
Shiffrin, who spent time in the offseason dialing in skis for conditions like those presented Saturday, looked pleased to move into a 0.67-second lead with a smooth, mistake-free run.
“It was tricky with the snow coming. There’s just like so many weather conditions today,” Shiffrin told the Associated Press.
“It was really fun to race, it’s a challenging slope and it’s kind of interesting to finish the season with that,” she continued. “Because, for me, it gives a lot insight into the things we can work on through the summertime and into the preparation for next season. So, it kind of leaves some motivation.”
A mistake from Swenn-Larsson, who caught the back of her ski on a gate, ensured Shiffrin a spot on the podium, but Popovich — who was seeking her first career podium — skied aggressively in the next run, building a one-second advantage at the top of the course en route to a 0.43-second lead.
Vlhova would finish the day. The defending Olympic slalom champion made two nice recoveries at the top of the course but fell behind by 0.08 hundredths with two sectors to go after a few wide turns sapped her ski speed. She made up no time in the third sector, but was flawless in the fourth, sneaking back into a 0.43-second lead to claim her second win of the season.
Vlhova told Agence France-Presse she was happy to finish her season on top.
“My season was up and down, just one victory this season in slalom, some podiums,” she said. “The last race, I was DNF, but I felt good, so I wanted to come here, to show my skiing in the last races and to have a good feeling for next season.”
Coming into the event, Shiffrin already had secured her seventh-career slalom crystal globe.
“It’s a lot of hard work and many amazing races and work from the whole team,” Shiffrin responded when asked about the season title. “The skis, coaches, service, teammates, everybody — I’m very thankful and very proud.”
“My first several slalom globes, it’s almost like I won them almost without understanding,” she reflected to U.S. Ski and Snowboard after the race.
“I had less pressure when I was skiing — feeling young, just trying to earn my spot to be racing on the World Cup still. Now there’s always a little more weight.”