Mikaela Shiffrin wins 45th World Cup slalom of career
Miki closes on Vlhova for slalom globe
We’ve got a battle for slalom and you can round up the usual suspects.
Mikaela Shiffrin rallied for a spectacular second run to overcome a 0.27-second deficit to overcome — surprise — Slovakian Petra Vlhova for the American’s 69th career World Cup win of her career, a nice 26th birthday present one week before the actual day, in Saturday’s slalom in Jasna, Slovakia.
The win moves Shiffrin into second place in the chase with 435 points, just 45 points behind Vlhova at 480. There are three slaloms, or 300 points up for grabs, remaining in the season — two next week in Are, Sweden, and then the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
DID YOU KNOW⁉️— U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team (@usskiteam) March 6, 2021
Today, @MikaelaShiffrin won her 45th @fisalpine World Cup slalom event, one shy of the record for most World Cup wins in a specific discipline: 46 by Ingemar Stenmark in the giant slalom. It was also her 69th career victory. 🥳#worldcupjasna pic.twitter.com/aCLMEDayZA
Slalom win No. 45 nears another record for Shiffrin. Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark holds the all-time mark for most World Cup slalom wins at 46. Stenmark won 86 races in his career — 46 in slalom and 40 in GS.
“That was a really big step,” Shiffrin said to NBC Sports. “That’s the feeling. That’s the fight. … I felt it, after my run, even before Petra came down.”
That had to feel good after seeing her run of four world championships in slalom come to an end two weeks ago in Cortina, Italy, at the hands of Austria’s Katharina Liensberger.
If you’re wondering, Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener was third and Liensberger fourth. What’s more, this is part of a little tit-for-tat. This weekend’s races are home ones for Vlhova and Shiffrin just won a slalom in the Slovakian’s backyard.
American Paula Moltzan finished 13th.
Holdener finished 0.52 behind in third. It was the 26th career slalom podium for the Swiss skier, who is yet to win a race in the discipline.
Liensberger was 1.42 off the lead in fourth and missed a slalom podium for the first time this season.
Shiffrin won bronze at the worlds but later said she was disappointed in her skiing.
On Saturday, though, the three-time overall champion was back to her best.
“That was good, it was a really big step,” said Shiffrin, who still found “some small things” she could have done better.
“But it was OK as I kept pushing. That’s the feeling that I want to have,” she said. “Today it was good enough to win, sometimes it’s not. But that’s the feeling, that’s the fight.”
The race resembled the victory from Shiffrin’s only previous visit to the Slovakian resort, in 2016, when she also beat the home nation’s favorite, Veronika Velez-Zuzulova.
“Last time it was the fight between Zuzu and me,” Shiffrin said. “It’s actually quite a pleasure to come here and have that fight with these girls. The two times we came to Jasna, we had a Slovakian girl who was on top level.”
The main difference, however, was the lack of spectators on Saturday amid anti-coronavirus measures.
“Last time, for sure, the crowd was bigger and you could feel the atmosphere more for the hometown girl,” Shiffrin said.
Vlhova narrowed the gap on overall World Cup leader Lara Gut-Behrami. The Swiss skier sat out the race and was holding a lead of 107 points.
The race weekend was initially scheduled to start with a giant slalom, but organizers swapped the program as unfavorable weather was forecast and moved the GS to Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.