Shiffrin podiums in Semmering slalom, Vlhova fourth
Michelle Gisin becomes first skier not named Vlhova or Shiffrin to win World Cup slalom in nearly 30 races
Mikaela Shiffrin held a 0.02 second lead after the first run of the women’s World Cup slalom under floodlights on Tuesday in Semmering, Austria, but finished third with Swiss skier Michelle Gisin winning by 0.02 seconds over second-place Katharina Liensberger, of Austria.
Fellow Americans Nina O’Brien finished ninth, a career best; and Katie Hensien finished 27th, making it to the second run for the first time in a World Cup.
Slovakian Petra Vlhova, who leads the overall and slalom World Cup standings, finished fourth. Vlhova remains atop the overall standings, followed by Gisin and Shiffrin.
Gisin’s victory — her first on the World Cup in nine seasons — marks the first Swiss skier to win a women’s slalom in 19 years. It also ends a streak of 28 slaloms in a row that were won by either Shiffrin or Vlhova that started in January of 2017.
“I broke the incredible run of two giants,” Gislin said after the race. “It’s a perfect day.”
“I am super happy for Michelle,” Shiffrin said. “I’m really happy to see Michelle skiing like that, and really earning this win. It’s been a long time coming so it’s nice to see that.”
With the third-place finish on Tuesday, Shiffrin has failed to win a slalom in a whole calendar year for the first time in her career. She missed time earlier in 2020 after the tragic passing of her father, and a coronavirus shutdown.
“I would like to win, for sure, and I was really pushing, but sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” she said. “There is a lot of positive things to take from today. It’s a process going step by step.”
Usually using her mental approach to her advantage, Shiffrin admittedly struggled waiting for her final run.
“I didn’t manage it very great but also, it wasn’t so bad,” she said. “I was trying to bring good intensity, and sometimes it’s a little bit too much. I try to remember how these things feel and it’s a good step in a good direction. Hopefully I can take that and keep moving in the right direction.”
After Monday’s giant slalom was canceled due to winds exceeding 60 mph that destroyed part of the finish area, Shiffrin recognized Fritz Kremsl and the Semmering team with a “medal of kindness” for their efforts to make Tuesday’s race happen.
Shiffrin will look to continue her recent success in a slalom on Jan. 3 in Zagreb, Croatia.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.
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