Mikaela Shiffrin finishes third in Are, Sweden World Cup giant slalom
Edwards skier maintains lead in overall standings as Vlhova inches closer with win
Petra Vlhova was in a league of her own at Friday’s World Cup giant slalom in Are, Sweden, winning by 1.24 seconds over Marta Bassino, but Mikaela Shiffrin, with a third place finish, maintained her lead over the Slovakian in the overall World Cup standings. Vlhova, the defending overall winner, now trails the 26-year-old American by 77 points.
“It’s quite important but I think it’s important for myself because finally after more than one year I come back and am on the top of the podium,” Vlhova told FIS reporters after her sixth win of the season across all disciplines.
It was the 118th career podium for Shiffrin, who won three-straight overall crowns from 2017-2019 and would tie Lindsey Vonn for the most ever by an American skier if she finishes the season on top. Austrian Annemarie Moser-Pröll holds the all-time record with six.
“I felt like my skiing (in the second run) had a bit more fire, and I had mostly hoped I wouldn’t move back a bit, so it’s quite incredible to have moved up a couple of places,” Shiffrin told Mackenzie Moran of U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
The Edwards resident was in sixth after posting a time of 1:15.59 in the first of two runs down the Olympia course. Vlhova was exceptional in her first run but lost approximately eight tenths of a second after a slight mistake in the final interval. She still held a 0.79 second margin over her American rival as the stadium lights came on for run no. 2. Though temperatures started at 5 degrees Celsius, snow conditions slowed down as the competition wore on, meaning the leaders skiing at the end of the second go around faced a slight disadvantage.
Skiing sixth-to-last, Shiffrin only lost 0.26 seconds through the first two intervals on the slow snow. She gained confidence through the flats and finished strong to take a 0.23 overall lead as Tessa Worley stepped into the gate.
The French skier had everything to race for after winning the giant slalom in Lenzerheide last weekend, a victory which united her with Annemarie Moser-Pröll (16) in second place on the women’s list for most World Cup victories in the discipline. The 2017 giant slalom discipline winner also trailed Swede Sara Hector by 55 points in the season standings heading into the event, the second-to-last GS of the season. The diminutive and powerful athlete lost considerable time at the top of the course, but earned close to a second back in the final two intervals to finish just 0.21 seconds behind the American.
Then, a big mistake from Swiss skier Michelle Gisin with five gates remaining pushed the two-time Olympic gold medalist out of the top five with Hector up next.
The door was open for the Swede, on her home snow, to clinch her first ever discipline globe. The 29-year-old, who also could have secured the title last weekend, skied out of the course three gates in to end her day with a disappointing DNF.
Bassino, the defending GS globe winner, put a clean run together to bump Shiffrin off the top step by 0.46 seconds. No one could match the Slovakian skier, however, who didn’t falter one bit in her second look at Olympia. Her aggressive, mistake-free skiing resulted in the giant 1.24 second margin.
“It means a lot because I felt really good. With these types of conditions I felt really strong and was able to ski really fast. First round, I did a few mistakes, but in the second round I did my best to ski a good line,” she told FIS.
“In the end, it was first place and I’m really happy.”
The venue has treated Vlhova kindly. At the 2019 World Championships, the last time the World Cup came to Are, she claimed the giant slalom title with Shiffrin earning the bronze.
A slalom will be contested in Sweden on Sunday before the World Cup wraps up in Courchevel/Méribel, France Mar. 14-20 with a full slate of events.
1. Mikaela Shiffrin, USA – 1,216
2. Petra Vlhova, SVK – 1,139
3. Federica Brignone, ITA – 931
4. Sofia Goggia, ITA – 851
5. Sara Hector, SWE – 742
1. Sara Hector, SWE – 522
2. Tessa Worley, FRA – 517
3. Mikaela Shiffrin, USA – 471
4. Petra Vlhova, SVK – 431
5. Marta Bassino, ITA, 276