Shiffrin finishes fourth, just missing 100th World Cup podium in Zagreb night slalom; Vlhova reclaims crown
On a foggy night in Zagreb on Sunday, days after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit central Croatia, Mikaela Shiffrin sat in first place of the World Cup slalom race after two runs with three racers to go. She would go on to finish fourth, 0.27 seconds behind Petra Vlhova.
Vlhova, who won the race in Zagreb last year, continues her slalom streak and was crowned Snow Queen after the race — a trophy presented annually at this World Cup event. Swiss skier Michelle Gisin finished second, and Austrian Katharina Liensberger finished third.
Shiffrin, considered by many to be one of the greatest slalom skiers of all time, continues her search for her 100th career World Cup podium and sole possession of third place on the all-time World Cup wins list, currently tied at 67 wins with Marcel Hirscher and trailing only Ingemar Stenmark (86) and Lindsey Vonn (82).
The U.S. Ski Team saw six Americans start the slalom on Sunday in Zagreb with Shiffrin, Nina O’Brien (24th), Paula Moltzan (27th) and (Katie Hensien 33rd) making the turn to the second run. For Hensien, the points earned are her first on the World Cup circuit. American veteran Resi Sitegler did not make the turn, but after coming down the historic track for the 10th time in her career, she crossed the finish and kissed the ground showing her love for Zagreb.
For the women’s U.S. Ski Team, it was the first time since December of 2007 that four teammembers qualified for the second run of a slalom, a promising sign for the growing team led by Shiffrin.
After the first run on Sunday, Shiffrin was sitting in fourth place 0.04 seconds behind Vlhova. The winningest World Cup slalom skier of all time, Shiffrin continues her success in the discipline but is still seeking her first win in about a year amongst stiff competition. Vlhova, now with 11 World Cup slalom wins and two in Zagreb, remains atop the slalom season standings, as well as the overall. Shiffrin is also looking up at Gisin in the slalom standings, who has podiumed in every discipline this season except giant slalom (she has a fourth-place finish in that discipline), and Liesenberger.
Defending overall champion Federica Brignone did not race to focus on upcoming speed events.
Skiers took to a course that featured a weakend surface thanks to heavy rain just outside of Croatia’s capital. Course workers added salt to harden the top layer — but also created bumpy conditions. Croatian great Ivica Kostelic lost his balance during a pre-race camera run and fell. Vlhova, the last racer to go in the second run, had a few miscues on the deteriorating course.
“During my run, I thought, ‘OK, the race is done.’ But I found something inside, I pushed more and more and more until the finish,” she said after the race. “It’s amazing and a really emotional victory.”
Race organizers said they would donate 10% of prize money to a relief fund for people affected by the recent earthquake in Croatia. The Croatian ski federation matched the donation, bringing the total amount raised to $60,000.
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