Shiffrin misses podium in second race back, Vlhova wins again
After finishing second in her first race in almost 300 days on Saturday, Mikaela Shiffrin followed it up Sunday with a fifth-place finish in the women’s World Cup slalom in Levi, Finland. Petra Vlhova won Sunday’s race, her fifth slalom victory in a row dating back to last year.
“It’s incredible to be here,” Shiffrin said on the U.S. Ski Team’s social media accounts. “I had two really solid races and it was an incredible weekend. I feel really grateful that I’m able to do these races and I was able to participate again.”
The back-to-back slaloms on Saturday and Sunday in Levi were the first two slalom races of the season for the women, with seven more remaining on the schedule.
The U.S. ski team said Shiffrin was “feeling a bit lethargic” and “still trying to figure out how to manage her energy levels,” a day after her comeback to racing.
For Shiffrin, the winningest slalom skier in history with 43 victories, she is looking up in the standings at Vlhova. Since January 2017, all 28 World Cup slaloms have been won by either Shiffrin (19 wins) or Vlhova.
Shiffrin, a four-time winner at Levi, was fourth after the first of two runs on Sunday and ended +0.93 behind Vlhova (1:49.05). Vlhova held off a challenge from Michelle Gisin, who finished second. The two were tied with the same time after one run Sunday. Katharina Liensberger was a half-second behind in third. Finishing fifth, Shiffrin missed the podium in a slalom race for the first time in nearly three years.
Shiffrin was the top American on Sunday, with 13 different countries represented. Americans Paula Moltzen finished 23rd and Lila Lapanja finished 25th.
While Shiffrin and the rest of the U.S. Ski Team spent time at Copper Mountain training ahead of the World Cup circuit, races will remain in Europe with the North American stops canceled due to COVID-19. The women’s next race is a parallel Nov. 26 in Lech Zurs, followed by super-Gs in St. Moritz on Dec. 5 and Dec. 6.
“Today I leave Levi with big confidence,” Vlhova told The Associated Press after the race Sunday. “I feel that this year, I have a lot of power, a lot of confidence. For the next races I will try to do the same but it is not easy to take the victory.”
For Shiffrin, though, right now the simple act of stepping into the start gate should be a victory.