Bobble costs Mikaela Shiffrin World Cup slalom win in Sweden
Vlhova makes it two in a row
A small mistake in one turn during her second run got Mikaela Shiffrin in her backseat ever so briefly, dropping the American to third in Friday’s women’s World Cup slalom in Are, Sweden, behind Slovakian Petra Vlhova and Austria’s Katharina Liensberger.
It’s Vlhova’s second consecutive slalom win and fourth of the season. With the victory, Vlhova added to her lead and took a big step toward defending her slalom globe. Vlhova also took the overall World Cup lead over Switzerland’s Lara Behrami-Gut.
Shiffrin and Vlhova started the evening run at end of the flip, the Slovakian leading by 0.41 seconds. While Shiffrin did well to stay up after the back of one of her skis brushed a gate she had already cleared, the mistake bumped her out of green numbers and allowed Liensberger to slide into silver.
Vlhova’s win all but secures her second straight World Cup slalom title. The Slovakian leads Shiffrin, 580-495, in the quest for the globe with only two races remaining, including another slalom on Saturday in Are.
With an 85-point lead with 200 points left on the table, Vlhova will have to make a major mistake or two — likely including a DNF — for Shiffrin to climb back into contention. This is poor form when it comes to sportsman-like rooting, but Vlhova’s last DNF in slalom was on Nov. 23, 2019, in Levi, Finland.
Watching the replay of her run, Shiffrin seems to catch the last of a series of gates. (Start the video at 20 seconds.) That sends her into her backseat — for which we give her Bode Miller points. Mercifully, Shiffrin doesn’t have Bode’s flair for the dramatic, so she popped back up.
Her weight landed on her right ski, but she recovered well to preserve the run. Yet that turned a 0.21-second lead into a 0.24 deficit. Vlhova ended up beating Liensberger by 0.2 seconds and Shiffrin by 64-hundredths.
News and notes
• Most importantly, happy birthday to Mikaela. Shiffrin turns 26 on Saturday, which she will celebrate by slaloming, which we suppose is a good activity for such an occasion.
Just for fun, Here are some win totals for notable World Cup racers on their 26th. Ingemar Stenmark was on 67, while Lindsey Vonn had 33. Vonn turned 26 on Oct. 18, 2010, and was in the process of going off toward 82 career wins, second only to Stenmark (86).
In October 2010, just before the season-opener in Soelden, Austria, Vonn is coming off an 11-win season plus her Olympic downhill title. In the next two-and-a-half years, Vonn’s going to win 26 more times before her catastrophic knee injury at worlds in Schladming, Austria.
Shiffrin’s sitting on victory No. 69. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, fourth on the all-time wins list with 67, had 30 on his 26th. He did win one day before his 26th with a giant-slalom victory in Adelboden, Switzerland.
• Could Shiffrin have won the race without the bobble? This is a question mark. This was not like the worlds super-G last month where she was leading most of the way down the course, made one small mistake and likely should have won without that error.
Friday, Shiffrin was already trailing Vlhova by 0.41 seconds after the first run, had only a 16-hundredths of an advantage coming out of the start house and had only pushed her lead to 0.21 seconds at the interval before the mistake. She had gained only 0.05 seconds on Vlhova before her bobble, which was early in the second heat.
Even if she doesn’t make that mistake, we don’t know if she was fast enough to win Friday.
• For the trivia department, this is Shiffrin’s 103rd podium.
We’ll see you all Saturday morning for more slalom. It’s 2:30 a.m. Mountain on Peacock for the first run and Peacock and Olympic Channel for the flip at 5:45 a.m.